Gen Hewitt Terrell Wheless

Gen Hewitt Terrell Wheless

Birth
Menard County, Texas, USA
Death 7 Sep 1986 (aged 72)
Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 30 Site 384-1
Memorial ID 117972393 · View Source
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US Air Force Lieutenant General. A World War II veteran combat bomber pilot, he rose in rank to become the Assistant US Air Force Vice Chief of Staff. He graduated in March 1932 from the Gulf Coast Military Academy at Gulfport, Mississippi and received his Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas in 1936. While at the University of Texas, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army Infantry Reserve in January 1935. He then decided to become an aviator and in June 1938 he began pilot training as an aviation cadet at Randolph Field (now Randolph Air Force Base, a part of Joint Base San Antonio), Texas, and graduated at Kelly Field (now Kelly Air Reserve Base, a part of Joint Base San Antonio), Texas with his pilot wings. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps Reserve in May 1939 and his first assignment was as assistant operations officer of the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron at March Field (now March Air Reserve Base), California. In October 1941 he was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group in the Philippine Islands, and later to Java and Australia, following the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia. On 14 December 1941, just a week after the US entered World War II, he was the pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber aircraft on a mission to attack Japanese warships and transports in the harbor at Legaspi, Philippine Islands, when his aircraft was attacked by 18 enemy fighters. The airplane was able to drop its bombs and seven fighters were reportedly downed, and he returned to his base and landed the aircraft safely in the dark with three flat tires. His heroism was noted in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chat on April 28, 1942. That month, he returned to the US and served as operations officer for the 34th Bombardment Group at Geiger Field (now Spokane International Airport), Spokane, Washington. In December 1942, he was assigned as deputy commander of the 88th Bombardment Group at Walla Walla, Washington, where he later became its commander. From October 1943 to June 1944 he was operations staff officer at 2nd Air Force Headquarters, Colorado Springs, Colorado. In June 1944 he returned to the Pacific Theater of Operations, serving as director of operations for the 314th Bombardment Wing at North Field, Guam. In 1945 he returned to the US and was assigned to the Fort Worth Army Air Field (now Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth), Texas, where he served as deputy chief of staff, operations, for the 58th Bombardment Wing. The following year he was assigned in the same capacity to the 8th Air Force, and in December 1946 he became the commander of the 7th Bombardment Group at Spokane Army Airfield, Washington. In August 1947 he was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Headquarters at Andrews Army Air Field (now Andrews Air Force Base), Maryland, as Chief of the Operations Division, and in December 1948 moved with the command to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where he was the Deputy Director of Operations. In April 1950 he was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, in the same capacity for the 2nd Air Force. In July 1951 he was assigned to England as the Director of Operations for the 7th Air Division and in October 1952 he returned to the 2nd Air Force to become its Director of Operations. In November 1953, he assumed command of the 306th Bombardment Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and the following April he assumed command of the 801st Air Division at Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio (now closed). In April 1957 he was assigned to Headquarters US Air Force in Washington DC where he performed duty as the Chief, War Plans Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. The following July he was transferred to the Directorate of Plans as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs, with no change in duty. In July 1958 he became the Deputy Director for War Plans, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs, and in September 1958 became Director of Plans. He then became the SAC Director of Plans in September 1960, and in July 1962 he was named its Chief of Staff. In June 1963 he was assigned to Headquarters US Air Force, Washington DC as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Requirements and became its Deputy Chief of Staff the following February and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. In February 1965 he became the Assistant US Air Force Vice Chief of Staff at Washington DC and in 1967 he was appointed to the additional duty of Senior Air Force Member of the Military Staff Committee, United Nations. He retired at these positions in June 1968 with 33 years of continuous military service. Among his military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. He was rated a command pilot and navigator. He died at the age of 72.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

Gravesite Details Date interred: 9/11/1986

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  • Created by: David McInturff
  • Added: 2 Oct 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 117972393
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gen Hewitt Terrell Wheless (31 Oct 1913–7 Sep 1986), Find a Grave Memorial no. 117972393, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by David McInturff (contributor 47179039) .