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First Name: Nathan

Last Name: Forrest

Birthplace: Memphis, TN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces (1941 - 1947)

Middle Name: Bedford

Date of Birth: 06 April 1905

Date of Death: 13 June 1943

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served:
Nathan Bedford Forrest III

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Nathan Bedford Forrest III
Brigadier General, U.S. Army Air Forces

Nathan Bedford Forrest III was born on 6 April 1905 in Memphis, TN, the son of Nathan Bedford Forrest II and Mattie Patterson Patton Forrest. He was the great-grandson of Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Forrest graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1928 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Cavalry. In 1929, he transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps and subsequently gained rank rapidly.

Dates of Rank

4 February 1934, First Lieutenant

16 June 1938, Captain

31 January 1941, Major

5 January 1942, Lieutenant Colonel

1 March 1942, Colonel

2 November 1942, Brigadier General

After his promotion to Brigadier General in 1942, Forrest was serving as Chief of Staff of the Second Air Force and flew missions as an observer with the Eighth Air Force in England. On 13 June 1943, he was reported missing in action when the B-17 Flying Fortress he was in went down over the Baltic Sea while leading a bombing raid on the German submarine yards at Kiel. The other members of the squadron reported seeing parachutes, and hoped that Forrest had survived. However, he was found dead on 23 September 1943 when his body washed up near a seaplane base at Rügen Island in Germany. He was buried by the Germans on 28 September 1943 in a small cemetery near Wiek, Rügen.

His family was presented his Distinguished Flying Cross, which he was awarded posthumously for staying with the controls of his B-17 bomber while his crew bailed out. The plane exploded before Forrest could bail out. Tragically, by the time German air-sea rescue could arrive, only one of the crew was still alive in the freezing water.

Forrest was the first American general to be killed in action during the war in Europe.


On 22 November 1930 he married Frances Brassler and they had no children, making him the final male Forrest in his great-grandfather's direct line.

Death and Burial

Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest III was killed in action on 13 June 1943. In 1947, two years after the war ended, his widow requested that he be returned to the U.S. and buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. He was exhumed and reburied in Section 11 at Arlington on 15 November 1949.

Honoree ID: 2507   Created by: MHOH




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