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Carl Andrew Spaatz


A few weeks after Pearl Harbor, in January 1942, General Spaatz was assigned as chief of the Army Air Force Combat Command at Washington and promoted to the temporary rank of major general. In May 1942, Spaatz was designated commander of the Eighth Air Force at Bolling Field, transferring to the European theater of operations in that capacity in July 1942, to prepare for the American bombing of Germany. His accomplishments earned him an award of the Legion of Merit. On July 7, he was appointed commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces in the European Theater, an addition to his duties as commander of the Eighth. His promotion to the permanent rank of colonel was made on Sept. 17, 1942.

On Dec. 1, 1942, General Spaatz became commanding general of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa. In February 1943, he assumed command of the Northwest African Air Force, which he organized. He received a temporary promotion to Lieutenant General March 12, 1943.

After Rommel's Afrika Korps had been driven out of the North Africa and the invasion of Italy was launched, General Spaatz became deputy commander of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, including the 12th Air Force in Africa and the 15th Air Force and the Royal Air Force in Italy. He returned to England in January 1944, to command the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, which he headed throughout the pre-invasion period and the ensuing campaign which culminated with the utter defeat of Germany. His service in Africa won an award of the Distinguished Service Medal, and the accomplishments of his Strategic Air Force in 1944, earned him the Robert J. Collier Trophy for that year, awarded annually to the American making the outstanding contribution to aviation.

Post-war, Gen. Spaatz became the first Commanding General of the USAF.
Retired 30 June 1948.



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Units served with

  • US Strategic Air Forces

    US Strategic Air Forces

    Eighth Air Force Headquarters became USSTAF in February 1944 and oversaw all Strategic Air Force activities in the European, African and Middle Eastern Theatre of Operations, particularly the operations of the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces.

  • Headquarters (Eighth Air Force)

    Headquarters (Eighth Air Force)

    8th Air Force Headquarters opened in London under the command of General Carl A Spaatz on 19 June 1942. It oversaw all Commands, Wings and Groups engaged in the Strategic Bombing Campaign until February 1944, when it became US Strategic Air Forces in...


  • 44-83259 Boops

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    VIP Transport for USAF Chief of Staff Carl Spaatz

Associated Place


Event Location Date
Born Boyertown, Pennsylvania 28 June 1891
Arrived in UK UK 15 June 1942
Buried Mt St Francis Cemetery, Colorado Springs, CO 80919, USA June 1974

Buried United States Air Force Academy Cemetery.

Died Washington, DC, USA 14 June 1974


Date Contributor Update
14 August 2019 09:48:32 Emily Changes to biography, events and place associations

USAAF Combat Chronology

Date Contributor Update
26 January 2016 13:36:22 Al_Skiff Changes to middlename, highest rank, biography, awards and events

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2015 09:57:21 apollo11 Changes to highest rank

Personal research & 4th Fighter Group 'Debden Eagles' by Chris Bucholtz.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:05:03 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / The Mighty Eighth by Roger Freeman