of the United States Air Force
LIEUTENANT GENERAL FRANK ALTON ARMSTRONG
Retired August 1, 1962. Died September 1, 1969.
Frank Alton Armstrong Jr., was born at Hamilton,
N.C., in 1902. He graduated from Wake Forest College in 1923 with a bachelor
of laws degree. Two years later he received a bachelor of science degree
from Wake Forest.
He began military service in February 1928
when he enlisted as a flying cadet at Nashville, North Carolina. He received
primary training at Brooks Field, Texas and advanced training at Kelly
Field, Texas. He received his pilot's wings in March 1929 and today is
a command pilot with around 11,000 flying hours. He has flown the B-47
Stratojet in addition to many types of conventional aircraft.
Lieutenant Armstrong's first assignment after
Kelly Field was with the Second Bombardment Group at Langley Field, Virginia.
The lieutenant returned to Kelly Field in 1930 to attend the Flying Instructors'
School and then went to March Field, Calif., as a flying instructor. In
1931 he transferred to Randolph Field, Texas where he continued his flying
In 1934, Lieutenant Armstrong received special
navigation and instrument flying training at Rockwell Field, California,
before he became a chief pilot with the Air Corps mail operations at Salt
Lake City, Utah.
His first overseas tour was with the 78th
Pursuit Squadron at Albrook Field, Canal Zone. Other pre-World War II assignments
were: commander of the 13th Bombardment Squadron at Barksdale Field, La;
a student at the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Alabama a
military observer in England; with the 90th Bombardment Squadron at Savannah,
Georgia, Air Base; and duty at Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Early in 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong
went to England to become the operations officer for the Eighth Bomber
Command. After promotion to colonel during the same year, he became a bombardment
group commander and a wing commander.
Colonel Armstrong led the first daylight raid
ever made by the U.S. Army Air Force over Axis territory. This raid over
Rouen-Sotteville, France blasted the target without loss of life or aircraft.
For this operation Colonel Armstrong received the Silver Star and an oak
leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross. (He had received the Distinguished
Flying Cross in 1936 for the landing of a twin-engine amphibian after one
engine had exploded). He was also awarded the British Flying Cross for
the Rouen-Sotteville raid, the first United States officer to be so honored.
Early in 1943, Brigadier General Armstrong
led the group over Wilhelmshaven in the first heavy bomber raid over Germany
proper. The B-17 experiences during this time became the basis of Bierne
Lay Jr. and Sy Bartlett's book and movie "Twelve O'Clock High".
He returned to the United States in August
1943 and commanded bombardment training wings at Dalhart, Texas, Ardmore,
Okla., and Colorado Springs, Colo. He then headed the 315th Bomb Wing at
Peterson Field, Colo.
Brigadier General Armstrong's stay in the
United States was of short duration. By mid-year 1945 he went to the Pacific
where he took command of the same bomb wing that he trained at Peterson
During the summer of 1945 he flew numerous
missions over oil targets in Japan. In August he flew from Guam to Honshu,
the longest and last very heavy bombing raid in the war, without bomb-bay
tanks and with an extremely heavy bomb load. In November 1945, he led the
first non-stop flight from Hokkaido, Japan, to Washington, D.C., in a Boeing
B-29 bomber. He was awarded an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying
Cross for each of the above achievements.
With World War II ended, Brigadier General
Armstrong could look back on many significant achievements he had made
during this worldwide conflict. He had served in both theaters. He personally
led the first and last heavy bombing raids of World War II.
Early in 1946, he became the Pacific Air Command
chief of staff for operations and later that year he returned to the United
States to become senior air instructor at the Armed Forces Staff College
at Norfolk, Va.
Early in 1949, Brigadier General Armstrong
began the first of two tours in Alaska. He headed the Alaskan Air Command.
In addition to increasing the combat capabilities of the Air Forces in
Alaska, he pioneered (with other members of the Alaskan Air Command) an
air route non-stop from Alaska to Norway, and from Norway to New York.
Following the flight to Norway, he received the Gold Medal of the Aero
Club of Norway, the highest civil award of that country.
Early in 1950, Armstrong was promoted to major
general and a year later returned to the United States to command Sampson
Air Force Base, New York. He was commended for the harmonious relationship
established between the base and surrounding civil communities in the trying
period of base activation.
Later in 1951, Major General Armstrong became
commanding general of the Sixth Air Division at MacDill Air Force Base,
Florida, trained and equipped the Air Force's first B-47 Stratojet Wing.
The general in late 1952 commanded Strategic
Air Command's Second Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
He held this position for almost four years.
In July 1956, Major General Armstrong returned
to Alaska to again head the Alaskan Air Command. Two months later, he became
commander in chief, Alaska, was promoted to lieutenant general and now
heads the unified Alaskan Command with headquarters at Elmendorf Air Force
1923 Wake Forest College, N.C., with
an bachelor of laws degree
1925 Wake Forest College, N.C., with
a bachelor of science
1928 Primary Flight Training, Brooks
1929 Advanced Flight School, Kelly Field
1930 Flying Instructors' School, Kelly
1939 Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell,
1947 Armed Forces Staff College
1. Feb. 1928 - March 1929 Flying School
at Brooks and Kelly fields, Texas
2. March 1929 - Jan. 1930 member of
Second Bomb Group, Langley Field, Va.
3. Jan. 1930 - Feb. 1931 student at
Flying Instructors' School, Kelly Field, Texas
4. Feb. 1931 - Dec. 1931 flying instructor,
March Field, Calif.
5. Dec. 1931 - Jan. 1934 flying instructor,
Randolph Field, Texas
6. Jan. 1934 - Dec. 1934 chief pilot
of the Air Corps mail operations at Salt Lake City, Utah
7. Dec. 1934 - March 1937 pilot in pursuit
and observation squadrons, Albrook Field, Canal Zone
8. March 1937 - Nov. 1939 member of
13th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Field, La.
9. Nov. 1939 - Nov. 1940 commander of 13th
Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Field, La.
10. Nov. 1940 - Feb. 1941 military observer
11. Feb. 1941 - April 1941 member of
90th Bomb Squadron, Savannah Air Base, Ga.
12. April 1941 - Aug. 1941 member of the 3rd
Interceptor Command, Tampa, Fla.
13. Aug. 1941 - Feb. 1942 staff duty
at Air Force Headquarters Washington, D.C.
14. Feb. 1942 - Aug. 1943 bomb group,
wing and division commander in European Theater of Operations
15. Aug. 1943 - Nov. 1944 commander of bomber
training wings at Dalhart, Texas, Ardmore, Okla., and Colorado Springs,
16. Nov. 1944 - May 1945 commander of 315th
Bomb Wing, Peterson Field, Colo.
17. May 1945 - Sept. 1946 commander
of 315th Bomb Wing in Pacific Area
18. Sept. 1946 - June 1948 senior air
advisor Air Force Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
19. June 1948 - July 1950 deputy commanding
general Alaskan Air Command
20. July 1950 - Jan. 1951 commanding
general Alaskan Air Command
21. Jan. 1951 - May 1951 commanding
general Sampson Air Force Base, N.Y.
22. May 1951 - Oct. 1952 commanding
general Sixth Air Division, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
23. Oct. 1952 - July 1956 commanding general
Second Air Force, Barksdale, Air Force Base, La.
24. July 1956 - Sept. 1956 commander Alaskan
25. Sept. 1956 - present commander in
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross British
Distinguished Service Medal
Air Medal with oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf
Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf
Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm
Occupation Ribbon - Japan
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign
Medal with star
American Defense Medal (FSO)
World War II Victory Medal
Philippine Independence Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Norwegian Gold Medal
General Armstrong personally led first
and last heavy bomber raids of World War II. The first raid was over Rouen-Sotteville,
France. The last raid was over Honshu, Japan. He also led his group over
Wilhelmshaven in the first heavy bomber raid over Germany proper. His mission
in the Pacific was "destroy ten different oil refineries," a mission he
carried out effectively.
In 1936 while a captain stationed at Albrook
Field, Canal Zone, General Armstrong was piloting a Douglas amphibian (OA-4A).
During the flight an engine exploded, but by skillful handling he landed
the aircraft safely on a small strip located on the Mala peninsula.
The citation for his Distinguished Service
Cross reads as follows:
The President of the United States takes pleasure
in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Frank A. Armstrong Jr.,
Brigadier General (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary
heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while
serving as Commander, 97th Bombardment Group (H), 8th Air Force, while
leading his Group in a bombing mission on April 5, 1943, against enemy
ground targets in Europe. Brigadier General Armstrong's gallant leadership
and unquestionable valor in aerial combat have upheld the highest traditions
of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 8th
Air Force, and the U.S. Army Air Forces.
Headquarters: European Theater of Operations.
U S Army, General Order No. 53 (1943)
Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs,
ARMSTRONG, FRANK A
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/24/1902
DATE OF DEATH: 08/20/1969
DATE OF INTERMENT: 08/25/1969
BURIED AT: SECTION 34 SITE 13-A
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
22 August 2000 Updated: 7 September 2004 Updated: 26 November 2005
Updated: 28 January 2006 Updated: 19 June 2011