Brig. Gen. Jesse Auton was born December 1, 1904, in Kenton County, Kentucky, where he graduated from high school in 1923. He then attended Georgetown College, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1927.
In October 1928 he was appointed a flying cadet and after graduating from primary school and advanced flying schools at Brooks and Kelly Fields in Texas, was a rated pilot and commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Reserve October 12, 1929. He received his regular commission as a second lieutenant of Air Corps January 6, 1930.
General Auton’s first assignment was with the 94th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field, Michigan. In September, 1930, he entered the Air Corps Technical School at Chanute Field, Illinois, completed the armament course the following April and rejoined his squadron at Selfridge Field. From July to December 1933, he was on Civilian Conservation Corps duty at Camp Pere Marquette, Ludington, Michigan, and then returned to Selfridge Field.
In February 1934, General Auton was appointed assistance control officer for the First Section of the Army Air Corps Mail Operations at Cleveland, Ohio. In June 1934, he became the Aide to Major General Preston Brown, commanding general of the Second Army and Sixth Army Corps, with station at Chicago, Illinois.
General Auton in December 1934, joined the 73rd Attack Squadron at March Field, California. From April to June 1935, he studied advanced air navigation and instrument flying at Rockwell Field, California, and then was assigned to the 17th Attack Squadron and March Field.
General Auton was appointed Aide to the Assistant Secretary of War in January 1937. In September 1939, he entered the Army Industrial College, was graduated in June 1940, and resumed his duties as Aide the Assistant Secretary of War.
In January 1941, General Auton assumed command of the 79th Pursuit Squadron at Hamilton Field, California; the following May became executive officer of the 20th Pursuit Group there, and in August 1941, was named commander of the 20th Pursuit Group. A year later, he assumed command of the 20th Fighter Group, which he commanded at Paine Field, Washington, Drew Field, Florida, and March Field, California. He became commander of the San Francisco Air Defense Wing, with station at March Field, in January, 1943, and the following April was appointed commander of the Fourth Air Defense Wing, also at March Field.
General Auton went to Europe in May 1943, as executive officer of the Fourth Air Defense Wing, and the following August assumed command of the 65th Fighter Wing there. In August 1945, he returned to the United States, and the following October became deputy commander and chief of staff of the AAAF Technical Training Command at Denver, Colorado.
In May 1946, general Auton assumed command of William Field, Arizona. The following November he was transferred to Randolph Field, Texas, and chief of the Personnel Welfare Branch of the Training Command. In January 1947, he entered the Armed Forced Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from which he graduated the following June. He then was assigned to Air Transport Command Headquarters, Washington, D.C., as assistant chief of staff for operations.
General Auton went to Germany in October 1948, for duty with the Berlin Airlift as commander of the 313th Troop Carrier Wing. He became commander of the air base at Gosse Bay, Labrador, in March, 1949. In May 1950, he was appointed chief of the Fighter Division of Strategic Air Command, with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
General Auton has been awarded the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Army Commendation medal with one cluster. His foreign decorations include the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre with Palm, Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm, and Order of the British Empire.
He is rated a command pilot.
He was promoted to first lieutenant (temporary) April 20, 1935; to first lieutenant (permanent) August 1, 1935; to captain (permanent) January 6, 1940; to major (temporary) March 21, 1941; to lieutenant colonel (temporary) January 5, 1942; to colonel (temporary) August 18, 1942; to brigadier general (temporary) March 2, 1944. He reverted to the rank of colonel (temporary) January 31, 1946, and was promoted to major (permanent) January 6, 1947; to colonel (permanent) April 2, 1948; to brigadier general (temporary) October 9, 1951, with a date of rank from September 27, 1951.
Note: General Auton was killed in a plane crash at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, March 30, 1952.