Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Delos

Last Name: Emmons

Birthplace: Huntington, WV, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Carleton

Date of Birth: 17 January 1889

Date of Death: 03 October 1965

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served:
Delos Carleton Emmons

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Delos Carleton Emmons
Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force

Delos Carleton Emmons was born on 17 January 1889 in Huntington, WV, the son of Carleton Delos and Minnie S. Gibson Emmons.

Military Career

Emmons graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1909 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. He was assigned as Commanding Officer, Company B, 30th Infantry, Presidio of San Francisco, CA, and then moved to Fort Gibbon, AK, with the unit. He was then assigned to Plattsburg Barracks, NY, where the Civilian Military Training Camp was located. [The brainchild of General Leonard Wood, it was the forerunner of today's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.]

He was promoted to First Lieutenant in July 1916, and detailed to the Signal Corps' Aviation Section for pilot training in August. In May 1917, he was rated a Junior Military Aviator and, in July, was promoted to Captain. Emmons next served as Aeronautical Officer of the Western Department at San Francisco and, in December, was transferred to Washington, DC, as Assistant Executive in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. The following June, Emmons was promoted to Major and sent to Mather Field, CA. He became a Lieutenant Colonel in August and, in December, was transferred to McCook Field, OH, as Assistant Chief of the Engineering Division.

Emmons transferred to the Air Service, U.S. Army, in July 1920 and, a year later, completed the Air Service Course at Harvard University. He returned to McCook Field for three years as Chief of Production Engineering. In August 1924, Emmons served as Commanding Officer of Crissy Field, CA, and then as Commanding Officer of the 91st Observation Squadron, Rockwell Field, CA. He went to Washington in August 1927, as Executive Officer, Office of the Chief of the Air Corps. He then served as Executive Officer to the Assistant Secretary of War for Air, Washington, in October 1928. Emmons was a student at the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, during 1931-32, and at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS, during 1932-34. He graduated from both schools.

Emmons was Commanding Officer of the 18th Composite Wing, and Air Officer, Hawaiian Department, at Fort Shafter in the Hawaiian Islands from March 1934 to July 1936. Emmons became a Colonel in March 1935, and was promoted to Brigadier General in June 1936. He returned to the U.S. mainland in July 1936 as Commanding General of the 1st Wing, General Headquarters Air Force, March Field, CA.

In March 1939, Emmons received his second star as a Major General when he was appointed Commanding General of General Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force, Langley Field, VA, succeeding Major General Frank Andrews, who had just completed four years in the position. While at GHQ, Emmons commanded a flight of seven B-17 bombers on a goodwill mission from Langley Field to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After the fall of France, the Americans and British increased their military cooperation and Emmons, Rear Admiral Robert L. Ghormley, and Brigadier General George V. Strong, were assigned temporary duty as Military Observers and sent to London on 6 August 1940. In November 1940, he was promoted to Lieutenant General when Army General Headquarters was activated, in order to make him equal in grade to other GHQ subordinate commanders. He retained his command when GHQ Air Force was renamed Air Force Combat Command in June 1941 and made a part of the new U.S. Army Air Forces. However, this caused command difficulties since he was now superior in rank to his boss, Major General Henry "Hap" Arnold, the new Chief of the Army Air Forces.

Ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Emmons returned to Hawaii as Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department. Emmons requested Army Air Force Headquarters to send additional planes and he received them as rapidly as possible. Emmons built up the forces in Hawaii, anticipating a battle at Midway. [Emmons succeeded Lieutenant General Walter C. Short who, on 17 December 1941, was removed from command of Pearl Harbor as a result of the attack. Short was ordered back to Washington by Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall. He was reduced from the temporary rank of Lieutenant General to his permanent rank of Major General, since temporary ranks are contingent on the command.]

Returning to the U.S. mainland in June 1943, Emmons was assigned three months later as Commanding General of the Western Defense Command, Presidio of San Francisco, CA. He was then Commanding General of the Alaskan Department, Fort Richardson, AK, from June 1944 to June 1946. He became Commandant of the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, VA, in August 1946, and remained in that position until he retired of an 'in line of duty' disability on 30 June 1948.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal
American Defense Service Medal with Foreign Service Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Star
World War I Victory Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Command Pilot Badge

Side Story # 1: Internment of Japanese-Americans

Unlike their counterparts in California, Hawaii's public officials urged restraint and reason. Congressional delegate Sam King advised the military that nothing should be done beyond apprehending known spies. In contrast to General DeWitt, as the military governor of Hawaii, Lieutenant General Delos Emmons opposed Washington's efforts to evacuate and intern Japanese Americans in Hawaii. Emmons believed that the Constitution guaranteed the right of due process of law to every person, and was determined to base his policies and actions on this principle.

In a radio address broadcast shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Emmons assured Japanese Americans: "There is no intention or desire on the part of the federal authorities to operate mass concentration camps. No person, be he citizen or alien, need worry, provided he is not connected with subversive elements. While we have been subjected to a serious attack by a ruthless and treacherous enemy, we must remember that this is America and we must do things the American Way. We must distinguish between loyalty and disloyalty among our people."

Side Story # 2: Japanese-Americans in the Military

Within weeks of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Military Governor of Hawaii, Lieutenant General Emmons, discharged all Japanese from the Hawaiian Territorial Guard and the 298th and 299th Regiments of the National Guard of Hawaii. The young men who had the most to prove and the greatest reason to fight for their homeland were denied the chance to serve. But they would not be denied. The discharged Japanese veterans appealed to Emmons to allow them to support the war effort of their Nation . . . in any capacity. Their persistence paid off, and Emmons consented to give some of them an opportunity to function in "support" roles. Although the support roles mostly consisted of menial tasks, the young Nisei performed them with dedication and resolve. Emmons noted their patriotism and endurance, and saw beyond the hysteria and paranoia around him. He recommended to the War Department that these pre-Pearl Harbor veterans be formed into a special unit, shipped to the mainland, and trained for combat.

On 26 May 1942, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall responded, establishing the Hawaiian Provisional Battalion, returning to military service many young Nisei (second generation Japanese) who had been summarily discharged after the 7 December attack. From these, 1,300 were selected to ship out on 5 June under the guidance of 29 white officers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Farrant Turner. By mid-June the unit was attached to the 2nd Army at Camp McCoy, WI, and beginning six months of basic training. The Hawaiian Provisional Battalion was re-designated the 100th Infantry Battalion. Its motto: "Remember Pearl Harbor!"

In January 1943, General Marshall approved the formation of the group for combat and in February the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was activated under the command of Colonel Charles W. Pence. Nisei also served prominently in the 100th Infantry Battalion. Both groups fought in Europe and in June 1944 they joined ranks in Italy, the 100th becoming the first battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team; because of its outstanding record, the 100th was allowed to keep its original designation. These two groups became the most decorated units of their size in U.S. Army history, winning eight Presidential Unit Citations and over 18,000 individual decorations for bravery.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Delos Carleton Emmons, a man that Time Magazine called "a hard-riding perfectionist, tough as parachute silk," passed away on 3 October 1965, at age 76. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 3275   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image