BG Howard Knox Ramey

BG Howard Knox Ramey

Waynesboro, Wayne County, Mississippi, USA
Death 19 Nov 1945 (aged 49)
At Sea
Burial San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Plot Section MA Site 59
Memorial ID 1102355 · View Source
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Brigadier General, U.S. Army Air Forces. World War I and World War II.

Howard Knox Ramey was born in Waynesboro, MS. He attended Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Mississippi State University) in Starkville, MS, from 1915 to 1917. He enlisted as a Private First Class in the U.S. Signal Corps, Aviation Section, in December 1917. Upon graduation from flying school on 20 April 1918, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

In July 1920, Ramey received a permanent commission as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Service. In 1921, he attended the Air Service Photography School and, after graduating, was Commander of the 6th Photo Section at Camp Nichols in the Philippines from January to October 1925. He served as Intelligence Officer there until his return to the U.S. in February 1927. He commanded the 22nd Photo Section at Kelly Field, TX, from 1927 to 1928, and was an Instructor at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School there from 1928 to 1931.

Ramey was finally promoted to captain on 1 March 1932, after being a first lieutenant for over ten years. On 26 March 1934, Captain Howard K. Ramey was one of 35 American World War I military pilots who founded the Order of the Daedalians, a fraternal order of military pilots.

He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, AL, in 1934; he then attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS, and graduated in 1936. On 16 June 1936, he was promoted to Major. He served as Operations Officer and Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the 1st Bombardment Wing at March Field, CA, from 1936 to 1941. Ramey was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 30 December 1940.

From January to August 1942, Ramey was Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (G-3) of the Fourth Air Force; beginning 5 January, with the rank of Colonel. Ramey was promoted to Brigadier General on 17 September 1942, and was Commanding General of the IV Bomber Command until November. In November 1942, he was designated as Deputy Commander of the Hawaiian Air Force (Seventh Air Force).

Brigadier General Kenneth Walker, commander of the V Bomber Command, was killed in an air raid over Rabaul, a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea, in January 1943. Following his death, the commander of the Fifth Air Force, Lieutenant General George Kenney, asked Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold, the Chief of Army Air Forces, to send Ramey to Australia as Walker's replacement. The two men had known each other for years and Ramey had recently been on Kenney's staff when he was commander of the Fourth Air Force. "I had a lot of confidence in him," Kenney later wrote, "and believed he would do a real good job for me. Arnold replied the next day that I could have him." Ramey assumed command of V Bomber Command, Port Moresby, New Guinea, in January 1943. After the arguments over bombing tactics he had with Walker, Kenney was pleased that Ramey liked the ‘skip bombing' tactics the Fifth Air Force was developing. These tactics were put in practice with devastating effect at the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943, while Ramey was leading the V Bomber Command.

On 26 March 1943, Ramey took off from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, in the B-17 Flying Fortress #41-24384, "Pluto" to carry out a scheduled 7-hour reconnaissance flight of Merauke and Horn Island. The last that was ever heard from the aircraft was a message from the radio operator twenty minutes after takeoff. An extensive air search was conducted but no sign was ever found of the aircraft, or the twelve men on board. Brigadier General Howard Knox Ramey was officially declared dead on 19 November 1945; he left behind a wife and two daughters.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Command Pilot Badge

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

Brigadier General Howard K. Ramey (ASN: 0-10874), United States Army Air Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding, V Bomber Command, FIFTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces in the Southwest Pacific Area of Operations. Brigadier General Ramey's gallant leadership and unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 5th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, General Orders No. 16 (1943)

An excerpt from his Army Distinguished Service Medal Citation provides additional details:

...The results achieved by his forces during the period between January and March 1943 are evidence of the outstanding leadership demonstrated by General Ramey at all times. The culmination of his efforts was the part he played in the annihilation of a 22-ship enemy convoy in the Bismarck Sea. General Ramey frequently accompanied his crews on combat and reconnaissance operations and he is missing in action as a result of one of these aerial operations. By his outstanding courage and unflagging devotion to duty General Ramey exemplified the highest traditions of the Army Air Forces and provide a source of inspiration to all who served with him.


On 18 September 1948, Borinquen Army Air Field, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, was renamed Ramey Air Force Base in honor of Brigadier General Howard K. Ramey. Many people mistakenly believe it was named after Roger M. Ramey. [I have had the honor of compiling bios for both of these outstanding generals. CAL] Today, it is a civilian facility known as Rafael Hernandez Airport, and is also home base to the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as the U.S. Customs & Immigration Service.

Brigadier General Howard Knox Ramey has Honoree Record 3299, with biography, at

Post-Crash Information

After General Ramey's disappearance, on 19 April 1943, command of the V Bomber Command was assumed by Colonel Roger M. Ramey (no relation) who was promoted to Brigadier General on 1 July 1943.

In February 2007, diver and documentary filmmaker Ben Cropp reported that he had found the wreckage of the B-17 Flying Fortress #41-24384, "Pluto" (see photo). However, the plane turned out to have been an incorrectly identified C-47 (similar to a civilian Douglas DC-3). The location of the wreck of "Pluto" remains a mystery.

Update on Recovery of the B-17 ‘Pluto’

On 19 April 2017, diver and documentary filmmaker Ben Cropp reported the following to BG Ramey’s great-grandson, Trey Watkins:

I'm still sure the B-17 plane wreck is the Pluto your grandfather was on. It definitely is a B-17 and in the right area for the Pluto. Since I last spoke with you, I did locate the fuselage and we dug deep down by hand to the pilot cockpit seats hoping to find dog tags, but without success. We need to go deeper with a dredge as any dog tags would, I assume, be at their feet on the floor. I haven't been back for years to do a proper excavation as it costs to go there and the people who were going to put up the money have folded. I'm 81 now, but still diving and boating and healthy but it would seem you are never getting closure, which is what I was aiming for. Kind regards, Ben

The status of the remains of the crew and passengers is Body Lost at Sea (Specifically; Near Torres Strait Island):

Pilot Brig. Gen. Howard K. Ramey, O-10874
Co-Pilot Lt. Col. Harold N. Chaffin, O-22469
Crew Capt. James R. Griffin, O-389636
Crew 1st Lt. William Lief, O-726002
Crew M/Sgt James D. Collier Jr. , 6920942
Crew T/Sgt Ortis L. Quaal, 6149056
Crew S/Sgt Robert R. Stith, 18004634
Crew S/Sgt Harry A. Johnson, 12031847
Crew Sgt Marvin Berkowitz, 6979447
Crew Pfc George T. Hopfield, 6668063
Passenger Capt. Stanley A. Loewenberg, O-0282379 NY
Passenger Lt. Comm. Ferdinand D. Mannoccir II, 131324 USN

There were 2 passengers on the aircraft: CPT Lowenberg was an Intelligence Officer assigned to Headquarters Squadron, V Bomber Command and Navy LCDR Mannoccir was an Air Combat Intelligence Officer with the Southwest Pacific Force and also served as Liaison Officer with the 5th Naval Air Force. LCDR Mannoccir's participation in the reconnaissance flight was not specifically required by his duties. However, LCDR Mannoccir made it his habit to supplement his usual sources of information by personal examination of enemy territory and operations from the air, regardless of the hazards involved. He was classified as an 'Observer' on the flight.

● Date Missing In Action: 26 March 1943
● Official Date of Death for USAAF Personnel: 19 November 1945
● Date of Death for LCDR Ferdinand D. Mannoccir II: 27 March 1944

The names of those shown above are listed on the Tablets of the Missing at The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.

Bio compiled by Charles A. Lewis

Family Members




Gravesite Details The Cenotaph in the photo is inscribed with the date that Gen. Ramey was officially declared dead. His aircraft disappeared over water on March 26, 1943. Cenotaph is at Section MA Site 59 Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.
  • Maintained by: Charles A. Lewis
  • Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Office
  • Added: 25 Feb 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1102355
  • Charles A. Lewis
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for BG Howard Knox Ramey (14 Oct 1896–19 Nov 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1102355, citing Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Charles A. Lewis (contributor 47162573) .