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William D. Old was born on November 21, 1901, at Uvalde, Texas. He was graduated from Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1924 with the degree of Bachelor of Science and commissioned a second lieutenant, Air Service, Regular Army, on June 15, 1924.

While attending Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, he completed a course for the Senior Division, Air Service Unit, while serving Reserve Officers Training Corps. His first assignment was to Brooks Field, Texas, in August 1924, where he enrolled in the Air Service Primary Flying School. He was graduated in March 1925 and enrolled in the Air Service Advanced Flying School, Kelly Field, Texas, that same month. Upon completion of the course he went to Maxwell Field, Alabama, for Staff duties and became Post Operations Officer the following month.

In July 1927 he returned to Kelly Field, Texas, as an instructor at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School. He proceeded to Clark Field, Fort Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands, where he served as Air Pilot and Air Corps Supply Officer until July 1935.

He then returned to the United States and enrolled in the Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Alabama, and following his graduation in June 1936, enrolled in the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was graduated in June 1937 and assigned to Langley Field, Virginia, for duty with the 49th Bombardment Squadron, General Headquarters Air Force. In July 1940 he went to MacDill Field, Florida, for duty with the 29th Bombardment Group as Commanding Officer of the 43d Bombardment Squadron and Command Pilot. In March 1941 he was assigned to General Staff duties at General Headquarters, Army War College, Washington, D.C. In July 1941 he was named Assistant Air Officer, General Headquarters, Army War College, Washington, D.C. In February 1942 he was named Chief of Staff of the Tenth Air Force, in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, and in September 1943 was made Commanding General of the American Air Base Command 1 in Assam, India. In December 1943 he became Commanding General of the Troop Carrier Command, of the Eastern Air Command, composed of USAAF and Royal Air Force troop carrier units based in India. In August 1944, having returned to the United States in June, he was assigned as Commanding General of the I Troop Carrier Command at Stout Field, Indiana.

In September 1945 he went overseas as Commanding General of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing at Tachikawa, Japan. He moved with his wing to Manila, Philippines in January 1946. In April 1946 he became Commanding General of the IV Air Service Area Command at Okinawa followed in June 1946 by duty as Commanding General of the Pacific Air Service Command at Manila, Philippines. Returning to the United States in September 1946, he assumed command of the Twelfth Air Force at March Field, California. From February to September 1947 he served as Director of Operations and Training on the War Department General Staff, Washington, D.C. Thereafter he took command of the Ninth Air Force at Greenville AFB, South Carolina, and, in February 1949, moved with his command to Langley AFB, Virginia. In October 1949 he became the Air Inspector (later, Deputy Inspector General), Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

In December 1950 he was named Commanding General of the Alaskan Air Command at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. In December 1952 he was made Special Assistant to the Commanding General of Air Training Command with station at Sheppard AFB, Texas. In March 1953 he was appointed Commanding General of the 3750th Technical Training Wing and Sheppard AFB, Texas.

General Old retired from the Air Force on August 31, 1954.

He was rated a Command Pilot, Combat Observer, and Technical Observer.

Second Lieutenant, Air Service, June 15, 1924; First Lieutenant, May 15, 1930; Captain (temporary), March 15, to July 2, 1935; Captain, August 1, 1935; Major (temporary), March 11, 1940; Major, A.U.S., January 31, 1941; Major, June 15, 1941; Lieutenant Colonel (temporary), November 15, 1941; Lieutenant Colonel, A.U.S., December 24, 1941; Colonel, A.U.S. (Air Corps), March 1, 1942; Colonel, A.U.S., May 1, 1942; Brigadier General, A.U.S., February 5, 1943; Major General, A.U.S., July 8, 1946; Lieutenant Colonel, June 15, 1947; Brigadier General, February 19, 1948, with date of rank February 6, 1943; Major General (temporary) with date of rank December 25, 1942; retired with rank of Major General, August 31, 1954.

Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross, British Distinguished Service Order, Chinese Special Collar Order of Yun Hui (Cloud and Banner).

He was awarded the Silver Star on May 6, 1942, with the following citation:

“During the period April 8 to May 3, 1942, these officers and enlisted men, having been sent into a forward area for other purposes, met an emergency situation as follows: Flying a heavily loaded unarmed transport airplane they, with Colonel Old piloting, Lt Bell as co-pilot and Staff Sergeant Creach and Pvt Wagner as aerial engineers, made repeated trips to critical airdromes which were continuously under enemy observation, bombardment and ground strafing. They transported approximately 30 tons of ammunition, aviation gasoline, medical and other critical supplies, and returned some 300 sick and wounded personnel to safety. Their accomplishment under the most difficult operating conditions was possible only through a possession of extreme skill, calmness during enemy attacks and untiring devotion to duty.”

He received the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944, with the following citation:

“For extraordinary achievement during the period 30 September to 10 November 1943, by participating as command pilot in operations against the enemy in every type of combat plane within his command. He flew as pilot in B-25, P-40, P-51, and A-36 aircraft far over enemy territory for purposes of reconnaissance and attack against important enemy installations. In participating in these hazardous and difficult missions, he performed his duties with extraordinary devotion and with distinction above and beyond that normally expected. The effect of these activities upon all officers and men of his command has been one ever increasing confidence and loyalty toward their commander. The spirit and courage evidenced by the performance of these missions are in keeping with the high traditions of the service and reflect much credit upon General Old and upon the Army Air Forces of the United States.”

(Old biography dated June 1, 1945, supplemented by information from USAF Historical Study No. 91: Biographical Data on Air Force General Officers 1917 to 1952.)