Military Wiki
Harold L. George
Lieutenant General Harold L. George
Birth name Harold Lee George
Born (1893-07-19)July 19, 1893
Died February 24, 1986(1986-02-24) (aged 92)
Place of birth Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
Place of death Laguna Hills, California
Place of burial United States Air Force Academy Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch USAAC Roundel 1919-1941.svg U.S. Army Air Service
US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg U.S. Army Air Corps
US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg U.S. Army Air Forces
 United States Air Force
Years of service 1917–1946,
and 1955
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Commands held 96th Bombardment Squadron
2d Bombardment Group
Air Transport Command

World War I

World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Legion of Merit
Air Medal
Knight of the Order of the Southern Cross
Not to be confused with Harold Huston George for whom George Air Force Base was namedHarold Lee George (July 19, 1893 – February 24, 1986) was an American aviation pioneer who helped shape and promote the concept of daylight precision bombing.[1] An outspoken proponent of the industrial web theory, George taught at the Air Corps Tactical School and influenced a significant group of airmen passing through the school, ones who had powerful influence during and after World War II. He has been described as the leader of the so-called "Bomber Mafia", the men who advocated an independent military arm composed of heavy bombers. George helped shape America's bomber strategy for the war by assisting Air War Plans Division with the development of a complete aircraft production and bombing strategy.

In 1934, George helped institute the Order of Daedalians, and served as that organization's first Wing Commander.[2][3]

During World War II, George led the Air Transport Command, taking it from 130 obsolescent aircraft to 3,000 modern transports, operated by 300,000 airmen. Following the war, he helped Hughes Aircraft become a very profitable company, and was twice elected mayor of Beverly Hills, California.

Early career

George was born July 19, 1893 in Somerville, Massachusetts, to Horace and Susan E. George. He attended George Washington University, but decided to interrupt his studies when the United States became directly involved in World War I.[2] George joined the United States Army and on May 21, 1917, received his commission as second lieutenant in the Cavalry as a reserve officer. A month later, he went on active duty with the Cavalry at Fort Myer, Virginia, and married Anna Virginia Helms on August 10. In October George resigned his reserve commission to become a flying cadet with the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps.[1]

George attended the ASSC School of Military Aeronautics (an eight-week ground school) set up on the campus of Princeton University and learned to fly at Love Field, Texas, receiving his rating of Reserve Military Aviator on March 28, 1918.[2] George went to France that September with an initial assignment to the 7th Aviation Instruction Center (bombardment) at Clermont-Ferrand.[1] Two months later he was posted to Ourches-sur-Meuse with the 163rd Aero Squadron, one of two DH-4B day bomber squadrons of the new 2nd Day Bombardment Group, Second Army Air Service.[4] In the week in which it saw action in November 1918, just prior to the armistice, the 163d flew 69 sorties in support of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.[5] George observed that massed bombers, flying in formation, swamped enemy defenses and so reduced the attacker's casualties.[6]

Bombing advocate

In France, George met William "Billy" Mitchell and became convinced that Mitchell's vision of an independent Air Force was the best future direction for the American military.[4]

After the war, George was assigned to the 49th Bombardment Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, where he was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1921. He next served with the 14th Bombardment Squadron at Langley Field, Virginia, and with the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. From 1921 to 1923, George assisted Mitchell in his bombing demonstration against old battleships, and helped develop air-to-ship tactics.[4] In August 1925, George went to Washington as chief of the Bombardment Section in the Operations Division of the Office of the Chief of Air Service.[1] Later that year, still at the rank of lieutenant, he was one of several young air officers to testify at Mitchell's court-martial.[7]

In July 1929, George was ordered to Hawaii for two years with the 5th Composite Group at Luke Field. In September, 1931, he went to Maxwell Field, Alabama, to study at the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) where he helped refine the precision daylight bomber doctrine taught there. Following graduation, George became an instructor at ACTS, teaching air tactics and precision bombing doctrine,[1] and became de facto leader of the influential "Bomber Mafia". With Haywood S. Hansell, Laurence S. Kuter and Donald Wilson, George researched, debated and codified what the men believed would be a war-winning strategy that Wilson termed "industrial web theory".[8] In 1934, George was made director of the Department of Air Tactics and Strategy, and vigorously promoted the doctrine of precision bombing in which massed air fleets of heavy bombers would be commanded independently of naval or ground warfare needs.[4]

Majors Harold L. George, Vincent L. Meloy and Caleb V. Haynes as goodwill pilots to Bogotá, Colombia

George was promoted to major in July 1936. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the following year and returned to Langley as commanding officer of the 96th Bombardment Squadron. George flew to South America as a part of Air Corps goodwill flights in February 1938 and November 1939, and received for his participation the Order of the Southern Cross (Knight), from the government of Brazil.[2] In 1940, George took command of the 2d Bombardment Group, which in 1937 had become the first unit equipped with the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.[1] He also filled the position of Executive Officer of the 2nd Bombardment Wing from January 1941.[2]

In July 1941, George was appointed assistant chief of staff for Air War Plans Division, a unit of the newly created USAAF Air Staff in Washington. In that capacity he assembled a small group of "bomber mafia" members (including Hansell, Kuter, and Kenneth N. Walker) to prepare AWPD–1, an estimate of air resources needed in the event of war that became the plan for the air war against Germany. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in February 1941, to colonel in January 1942, and to brigadier general in April 1942 when he took command of the Air Corps Ferrying Command (ACFC).[1]

Air transport

In June 1942, ACFC was redesignated Air Transport Command and tasked to become not just a delivery service of aircraft from factory to the field, but a worldwide cargo and personnel air transportation service. George led it brilliantly throughout World War II, with the able assistance of many staff officers including his deputy, General C. R. Smith, peacetime president of American Airlines.[1]

New organizations were formed and new cross ocean routes were established in the face of the enemy and under difficult conditions. George took the ferrying command from 130 obsolescent aircraft to 3,000 modern military transports, and expanded the personnel from 11,000 to 300,000.[4] For this major contribution to his country, George received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal, as well as decorations from Great Britain, France, Brazil, Peru and China.[1]

After the war he served for a while as director of information for the USAAF and as senior Air Force representative of the military staff of the United Nations. He retired from active duty December 31, 1946, with rank of lieutenant general dating back to March 1945.[1]

Post-war activity

George accepted a position at Hughes Aircraft to work for Howard Hughes, along with fellow bomber advocate Ira C. Eaker. Eaker and George transformed Hughes Aircraft into a very profitable military contractor,[9] reaching $100M in sales in 1948.[10] George expanded the company beyond the manufacture of aircraft to focus on the new field of military electronics, primarily by bringing together expert electronics designer Dean Wooldridge and engineer-businessman Simon Ramo, both hired by George in 1946. In August 1953, Ramo and Wooldridge resigned. George followed a few months later to help form the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, competing directly with Hughes by developing ballistic missile defenses. In 1958, Ramo-Wooldridge would merge with Thompson Products, to become Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, which was shortened to TRW in 1965.[11]

After moving there in 1948, George was elected to the City Council of Beverly Hills, California, in 1952, and in 1954 he was elected mayor, a one-year term. He served a second term in 1959.[12] During his second term, George established an annual award to honor outstanding Beverly Hills police officers, given in the name of Clinton H. Anderson, the city's police chief.[13][14]

In 1955, George was recalled to active duty in the United States Air Force for eight months as special consultant to the Air Force Chief of Staff. George was relieved from active duty November 4, 1955.[1]

By 1984, George was living in Laguna Hills, California. That year, he collected and donated more than $21,000 to various Republican Party candidates and conservative causes including the Jesse Helms-founded National Congressional Club and the "Helms for Senate" campaign.[15] On February 24, 1986, George died in Laguna Hills. He was survived by his wife Violette, three daughters and one son.[13]


In his directorship of ACTS, George is known today as the unofficial leader of the men in the Army Air Corps who closed ranks and pushed exclusively toward the concept of daylight precision bombing as a strategic, war-winning doctrine.[16] Though he played a fundamental role in the development of U.S. air power strategy, he is perhaps better known as the first commander of Air Transport Command—the man who guided and expanded that organization throughout World War II.[17]

The Order of Daedalians has, since 1956, awarded the "Lieutenant General Harold L. George Civilian Airmanship Award", a trophy "presented annually to the pilot, copilot and/or crew of a United States certified commercial airline selected by a Federal Aviation committee to have demonstrated ability, judgment and/or heroism above and beyond normal operational requirements."[18] The Air Force Aid Society bestows the "Lieutenant General Harold Lee George Educational Grant Award."[19]


George was awarded:

Effective dates of promotion

  • Second Lieutenant - May 21, 1917
  • First Lieutenant - April 1921
  • Captain - December 31, 1931[2]
  • Major - July 1936[4]
  • Lieutenant Colonel - February 1941
  • Colonel - January 1942
  • Brigadier General - April 1942
  • Major General - June 1942[4]
  • Lieutenant General - March 16, 1945.[1]

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "Lieutenant General Harold L. George". Air Force Link. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register. People: Harold Lee George. Retrieved on July 17, 2009.
  3. George, Harold L. Air University Review, July–August 1984. "Origins of The Order of Daedalians." Retrieved on January 2, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Boyne, Walter J.; Michael Fopp. Air Warfare: An International Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 2002, p. 252. ISBN 1-57607-345-9
  5. Edkins, 1997, p. 5.
  6. Edkins, 1997, p. 7.
  7. Edkins, 1997, p. 2.
  8. Finney, 1998, p. 66
  9. Hack, 2007, p. 180.
  10. Hack, 2007, p. 187.
  11. Encyclopædia Britannica. TRW Inc. Retrieved on January 2, 2010.
  12. The City of Beverly Hills. "Past Mayors." Retrieved on January 25, 2010.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1986. "Harold L. George, Ex-Beverly Hills Mayor, Dies at 93." Retrieved on January 2, 2010.
  14. Los Angeles Times, December 16, 1989. "Clinton H. Anderson; Ex-Beverly Hills Chief." Retrieved on January 2, 2010.
  15. Laguna-Hills, California (CA) Political Contributions by Individuals. Retrieved on January 2, 2010.
  16. Boyne, Walter. "The Tactical School". AIR FORCE Magazine. Retrieved 27 July 2008. 
  17. Edkins, 1997, p. 1.
  18. Order of Daedalians. "List of Awards". Retrieved on July 17, 2009.
  19. Air Force Aid Society. "Named Education Grant Awards." Retrieved on July 17, 2009.

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