28 January, 2009

Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz, USAF

Carl Andrew "Tooey" Spaatz was an American general in World War II, and the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.

Spaatz was born "Carl Andrew Spatz" on June 28, 1891, in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Spaatz added the second "a" in 1937 at the request of his wife and daughters to clarify the pronunciation of the name, as many pronounced it "spats". He added the second "a" to draw it out to sound like "ah", like the "a" in "father".

He attended West Point, where he received his nickname because of his resemblance to another red headed cadet named F.J. Toohey, and graduated in 1914. He served briefly in the infantry but was assigned to the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps in October 1915.

Spaatz served in the First Aero Squadron which was attached to General John J. Pershing during his expedition to Mexico in 1916. Spaatz was promoted to First Lieutenant in July 1916 and to Captain in May 1917.

Following America's entry into World War I, Spaatz was sent with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in command of the 31st Aero Squadron. Spaatz spent most of the war commanding the American Aviation School at Issoudun, France but he saw three weeks of action during the final months of the war. In this brief period, Spaatz shot down three enemy planes and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC); during the time he was with the 13th Aero Squadron. Spaatz was given a temporary promotion to major in th Air Service in June 1918.

In 1919 he served in California and Texas and became assistant department air service officer for the Western Department in July 1919. He reverted to his permanent rank of captain February 27, 1920, but was promoted to major July 1, 1920.

As a major, he commanded Kelly Field, Texas, from October 5, 1920, to February 1921, served at Fort Sam Houston as air officer of the Eighth Corps Area until November 1921, and was commanding officer of the 1st Pursuit Group, first at Ellington Field, Texas, and later at Selfridge Field, Michigan, until September 24, 1924. He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, Virginia, in June 1925, and then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington, D.C.

From January 1 to January 7, 1929, Spaatz along with fellow Air Corps officers, Captain Ira Eaker and Lieutenant Elwood Quesada, both of whom would later become senior United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) generals, established an aviation record by keeping the airplane Question Mark in the air over the Los Angeles vicinity for over 150 hours.

From May 8, 1929, to October 29, 1931, General Spaatz commanded the 7th Bombardment Group at Rockwell Field, California, and the 1st Bombardment Wing at March Field, California, until June 10, 1933. He then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps and became chief of the Training and Operations Division. In August 1935, he enrolled in the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and while there was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He graduated in June 1936, and then served at Langley Field on the staff of Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, commander of General Headquarters Air Force, until January 1939, when he returned to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington as assistant executive officer.

General Spaatz in November 1939, received a temporary promotion to colonel, and during the Battle of Britain in 1940, spent several weeks in England as a special military observer. In August 1940, he was assigned in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, and two months later was appointed assistant to the chief of Air Corps, with the temporary rank of brigadier general. He became chief of the Plans Division of the Air Corps in November 1940, and the following July was named chief of the air staff at Army Air Forces Headquarters.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, he was named commander of Air Forces Combat Command in January 1942 and promoted to the temporary rank of Major General, but this organization was disbanded the following month by presidential executive order that eliminated both it and the Air Corps as a command echelon of the USAAF. He was subsequently promoted to the permanent rank of Colonel in September 1942

In May 1942 Spaatz became commander of the Eighth Air Force and transferred its headquarters to England in July. Spaatz was placed in overall command of the USAAF in the European Theater of Operations, while retaining his Eighth Air Force command, until subsequently assigned command of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa in December 1942. Subsequently his role increased as he was named commander the Allied Northwest African Air Force in February 1943, the Fifteenth Air Force and Royal Air Forces in Italy in November 1943, and the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe in January 1944. Spaatz received a temporary promotion to Lieutenant General in March 1943.

As commander of Strategic Air Forces, Spaatz directed the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, directing the Eighth Air Force, which was now commanded by Lt. General Jimmy Doolittle, based in England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, which was now commanded by Lt. General Nathan Twining, based in Italy.

As the commander of Strategic Air Forces in Europe, Spaatz was under the command of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and the supervision of Gen. Hap Arnold, the USAAF Chief of Staff, and he continued under Gen. Arnold's command in the Pacific.

Carl Spaatz received a temporary promotion to General on March 11, 1945. He was transferred to the Pacific and assumed command of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific as part of the Pacific Theatre of Operations, with headquarters on Guam, in July 1945. From this command, Spaatz directed the strategic bombing of Japan, including the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Spaatz had been present at Reims when the Germans surrendered to the Americans on May 7, 1945; at Berlin when they surrendered to the Russians on May 9; and aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered on September 2. He was the only man of General rank or equivalent present at all three of these surrenders.

Spaatz made several controversial decisions in his leadership of the American strategic bombing campaign. He insisted on daylight missions despite the British insistence that daylight missions produced unacceptable casualty rates. Spaatz also believed that German oil production should be the primary bombing target despite the official decision that transportation was the primary target. In April 1944, Spaatz ordered bombings of the Ploie┼čti oilfields in Romania under the subterfuge that the actual targets were the rail lines that supplied the oil production facilities. Despite their great personal friendship, Spaatz sometimes argued with Allied Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower about military issues. But after the war, Eisenhower said that Spaatz, along with General Omar Bradley, was one of the two American general officers who had contributed the most to the victory in Europe. The USAAF daylight bombing of Germany and Austria broke the back of the Nazi Luftwaffe and gave air supremacy over Europe to the Allied Air Forces.

In July 1945, President Truman nominated Spaatz for promotion to the permanent rank of Major General. Spaatz was appointed commanding general of the Army Air Forces in February 1946 following the retirement of his friend General Henry H. Arnold. After the creation of the independent Air Force by the National Security Act of 1947 and Truman's Executive Order No. 9877, Spaatz was appointed as the first Chief of Staff of the new United States Air Force in September 1947.

Spaatz retired from the military at the rank of General in June 1948. He worked for Newsweek magazine as military affairs editor until 1961. He also served on the Committee of Senior Advisors to the Air Force Chief of Staff, from 1952 until his death. From 1948 until 1959, he served as National Commander of the Civil Air Patrol. In 1954, Spaatz was appointed to the congressional advisory board set up to determine the site for the new United States Air Force Academy. Spaatz died on July 14, 1974 and is buried at the Academy's cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great American and equally great Airman. My cousin, Madeline (Doyle) Tinker (1896-2000) - yes, 104 years - was the Widow of MGen Clarence L Tinker Commander of 7th US Army Air Corps, HQ Hawaii. General Tinker died south of Midway Island 6 June 1942 when his aircraft ditched in the Pacific. Madeline and "Tink" loved their dear friends, the Spaats.
FX McGillivary, Retired Major, RCAF