Major General Frank O. Hunter

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Major General Frank O. Hunter's Geni Profile

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Frank O'Driscoll Hunter

Birthplace: Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States
Death: June 25, 1982 (87)
Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Heard Hunter and Frances Hunter

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Major General Frank O. Hunter

Frank O. Hunter began his military career as a World War I flying ace, being credited by the United States Army Air Service with downing nine enemy aircraft. Hunter became an advocate of fighter aircraft strategy and tactics. In World War II he served as commanding general of the VIII Fighter Command and, later, the First Air Force.

Early career

Hunter was born in Savannah, Georgia. He was educated at Hotchkiss School, Connecticut, and in Lausanne, Switzerland. He enlisted in the Aviation Section, Signal Reserve, as a flying cadet on May 18, 1917.

World War I service

He went to France in September 1917 and received further training at the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center at Issoudun, France. Assigned to the 103rd Aero Squadron in May 1918, on his first combat patrol Hunter downed two German planes and landed safely despite being wounded. By the end of the war he had nine German planes to his credit, earning him recognition as an ace. Hunter was the last pilot remaining with the squadron before its return to the United States, transferring out on January 24, 1919.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with four oak leaf clusters. His achievements in aerial combat earned him the French Croix de Guerre with palm. He left the Army for a short time after the war, but returned with a commission in the Regular Army Air Service in 1920.

Between the world wars

When he entered the Regular Army in 1920 he attended Field Artillery School and Air Service Observation School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He graduated in September 1921 and transferred to Ellington Field, Texas, for duty with the 1st Pursuit Group. In July 1922, he went to Selfridge Field, Michigan, as Commanding Officer of the 94th Squadron, and in October 1922, entered the Air Service Tactical School at Langley Field, Virginia, returning to his command of the 94th Squadron when he graduated in June 1923. In July 1925 he became Operations Officer of Selfridge Field.

He transferred to Camp Anthony Wayne, Pennsylvania., in September 1926 as a pilot with the Composite Air Corps Squadron, and returned to Selfridge Field in December 1926. He next served in Washington, D.C., in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, and in December 1930 went to Rockwell Field, California, as Commanding Officer of the 95th Pursuit Squadron. He assumed command of the 17th Pursuit Group there in October 1931.

In November 1933 he was assigned as Executive Officer of the 1st Pursuit Wing at March Field, California, and in February 1934 became Chief of Operations, Western Zone Air Mail Operations, with headquarters at March Field. In May 1934 he returned to his duties as Executive Officer of the 1st Pursuit Wing. He was ordered to Albrook Field, Panama Canal Zone, in July 1934, as Adjutant and Operations Officer of the 19th Composite Wing. In December 1934 he became Operations and Training Officer and Intelligence Officer at Albrook Field.

He transferred to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in November 1936 as Commanding Officer of the 79th Pursuit Squadron, and in July 1937 became Operations Officer for the 3rd Wing there. He then went to Maxwell Field, Alabama, in July 1939 as Commanding Officer of the 23rd Composite Group.

World War II service

In May 1940 the citizens of Savannah, Georgia., named the Savannah Municipal Airport the Hunter Municipal Airfield, later Savannah Army Air Base, Hunter Air Force Base, then Hunter Army Air Field in his honor. In July 1940 he was attached to the Office of the Military Attaché in London, England, as a Military Observer. He returned to the United States in December 1940 and was stationed at Orlando Army Air Base, Fla., as Commanding Officer of the 23rd Composite Group. In February 1942, he was assigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., and in May 1942 joined the Eighth Air Force at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. That same month he accompanied that organization to the European Theater of Operations, with headquarters in London, as Commanding General, VIII Fighter Command. In this position he affected the first trans-Atlantic flight of AAF planes without the loss of life or equipment. He also directed the first P-47 fighter-bomber sweeps over the continent.

It was upon Brigadier General Hunter's recommendation that the Eagle Squadrons were transferred from the Royal Air Force to become the 4th Fighter Group in September 1942.

In May 1943, Hunter was relieved of his command for his failure to obey a directive issued by his superior, General Ira Eaker mandating use of wing tanks on P-47 fighters. He returned to the United States in August 1943[citation needed] and was named Commanding General of the First Air Force, where he was charged with training replacement air crews. His tenure in this command was marred by his involvement in maintaining racial segregation in the U. S. Army, thus provoking the Freeman Field Mutiny of the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1944 the Earl of Halifax, then Britain's Ambassador to the U.S., presented to General Hunter, in the name of the King of England, the CBE, "Commander of the military division of the most excellent order of the British Empire." Just a year earlier the general had been awarded the Legion of Merit for "exceptional services" in planning and executing the movement of air echelons of the Twelfth Air Force from Great Britain to North Africa. His other awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart.

In October 1945 he was assigned to a detachment of patients at Air Force Regional Hospital, Miami District, and later was admitted to Walter Reed General Hospital.

He was rated a command pilot, combat observer and technical observer. Throughout his lengthy flying career he survived three bail outs, one of which was from an altitude of 500 feet over a frozen lake, and two broken backs, both of which kept him in the hospital for a year. He became known as one of the Army's top stunt, test and racing pilots.

Post World War II

General Hunter retired from the Army Air Force in 1946. He died on 25 June 1982 in Savannah, Georgia.

World War I citations

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Major General Frank O. Hunter's Timeline

December 8, 1894
Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States
June 25, 1982
Age 87
Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia, United States