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First Name: Henry

Last Name: Warden

Birthplace: McKinney, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 26 December 1915

Date of Death: 15 November 2007

Rank: Colonel

Years Served:
Henry Edward Warden

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Henry Edward "Pete" Warden
Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Henry Edward Warden was born on 26 December 1915 in McKinney, TX, the son of Brigadier General John A. and Jane Abernathy Warden. When he was 13 years old, his father was stationed in Long Island, NY, and got then-Lieutenant Jimmy Doolittle to take his son up for his first airplane flight.

Initially studying architecture at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College for two years, he changed to Aeronautical Engineering at Catholic University in Washington, DC, where he earned his BS degree. He then worked on his Master's Degree at MIT, where he helped design the School's first closed-circuit wind tunnel.

Military Career

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939 starting World War II, he was convinced the U.S. would soon join the conflict, and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in November 1939 to become a pilot. In 1940, he completed pilot training, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, and assigned as a fighter pilot flying P-36 and P-40 fighters.

In 1941, he and his unit, the 20th Pursuit Squadron, were reassigned to the Philippines. When Japan attacked the Philippines in December 1941, he was stationed outside Manila. When General Douglas McArthur repositioned U.S. Forces on the Bataan Peninsula, Warden remained behind at Clark Field to piece together destroyed P-40s, to make them flyable and to prevent their capture by the Japanese. He salvaged eight P-40s, flying the last one himself to a field airstrip on Bataan. From there, he was sent to Mindanao to find and repair more aircraft. When Bataan fell, he was ordered to Australia, where he became a key figure in the Army Air Force's Logistical System, developing innovations to improve aircraft performance. During this period, he flew 25 combat missions, where he downed several Japanese planes.

In June 1944, he was reassigned to Wright Field, OH, to work on the experimental XB-36 program, one of the first Intercontinental bombers to be fielded after World War II. During his assignment to the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, AL, he met and married Joanna Shields Johnson and they had three children: Henry, William and Joanna.

Over the next 25 years, Warden worked on experimental aircraft programs in a variety of assignments, including the B-47 program. But it is his work with the B-52 Bomber for which he is best remembered. Warden was called "the Father of the B-52" because he conceived and nurtured the B-52 Stratofortress program from concept, through production, and into operational deployment. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1964 with the rank of Colonel.

In Retirement

Following his military retirement, he worked for North American Aviation for six years in Los Angeles, CA, and then moved to Columbus, MS, where he became a farmer. He and Joanna began a school, the Warden Carden School, which they operated for twenty years, as a ministry for the youth of Columbus, MS.

Medals and Awards

Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Defense of the Philippines Medal
Distinguished Unit Citation (4 awards) 

Death and Burial

Colonel Henry Edward Warden died on 15 November 2007. He is buried at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, MS.

Honoree ID: 3194   Created by: MHOH




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