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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Harper

Birthplace: Seattle, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Wells

Date of Birth: 07 November 1900

Date of Death: 07 December 1982

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served:
Robert Wells Harper

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Robert Wells Harper
Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force

Robert Wells Harper was born on 7 November 1900 in Seattle, WA.

He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry on 12 June 1924. His first assignment was with the Seventh Infantry at Vancouver Barracks, WA.

Harper decided that he liked flying better than marching so, in September 1925, he began training at the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, TX. He completed the primary training in March 1926 and was immediately transferred to the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, TX. He graduated in September as a fully trained pilot.

His first flying duty was with the Third Attack Group at Fort Crockett, TX. In June 1927, he returned to Brooks Field as Assistant Operations Officer of the Air Corps Primary Flying School; two years after that he became Secretary of the School. In May 1928, he was formally transferred from the Infantry to the Army Air Corps.

In December 1930, Harper went to Nichols Field in the Philippine Islands for duty with the Fourth Composite Group. He was transferred to the Third Pursuit Squadron at Clark Field in July 1931.

After returning to the U.S. in December of '32, Harper was assigned as Personnel Adjutant at Chanute Field, IL; he became the Post Adjutant in July 1934. Harper became a student at the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, AL, in August 1936 and graduated in June '37. He was then transferred to Edgewood Arsenals, MD, where he attended the Chemical Warfare School. In August 1937, Harper entered the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS, and graduated in June 1938. His next assignment, in 1939, was as Assistant Tactics Instructor at West Point. He later served as Commanding Officer of Battalion of Cadets, and Executive Officer, Headquarters U.S. Cadet Corps, at the Academy.

In July 1942, Harper was assigned to duty in the Office of the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff for Operations and Training, Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces, Washington, DC. A month later, he became Assistant Chief of the Air Staff for Operations and, in March 1943, was designated as Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Training.

Harper was sent to Germany in September 1944 as Air Advisor to the European Advisory Commission (the Director of Air Activities for Control of Germany, and Director of Post Hostilities Planning), U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe. On 1 November, he was appointed Director of the Air Control Council Group and, a month later, he became Chief of the Air Division, U.S. Group Control Council (Germany). In 1945, Harper was named Director of Air Activities for Control of Germany and, in October 1946, he was appointed Director of the Armed Forces Division, Office of U.S. Military Government for Germany.

Upon his return to the U.S. in May 1947, Harper was assigned to the War Department in Washington, and the following month transferred to Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces. On 1 July 1947, he became Commanding General of the Air Transport Command with headquarters at Gravelly Point, VA. In May of '48, Harper was named as Commanding General of the Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL.

Harper became Commanding General (later Commander) of the Air Training Command, with Headquarters at Barksdale AFB, LA, on 15 October 1948. Air Training Command Headquarters was moved to Scott AFB, IL, in November 1949. Lieutenant General Harper remained in that command until his retirement from active duty on 30 June 1954.

Harper was rated as a Command Pilot, Combat Observer, Aircraft Observer and Technical Observer. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Robert Wells Harper died on 7 December 1982. He is buried at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery West Point, Orange County, New York, in Section XXII Row D Site 35.


Honoree ID: 3282   Created by: MHOH




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