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First Name: Clements

Last Name: McMullen

Birthplace: Largo, FL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Date of Birth: 05 February 1892

Date of Death: 09 January 1959

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Clements McMullen
'Cement Head'

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Clements "Cement Head" McMullen
Major General, U.S. Air Force

Clements McMullen was born on 5 February 1892 in Largo, FL. He was the son of William A. and Rosa B. Ramage McMullen and was of Scottish descent. He attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, from 1907-11 and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. He was then employed by the State of Florida as an engineer until 1917.

In September 1917, Clements enlisted as a Private in the U.S. Army. He then entered the School of Military Aeronautics at the Georgia School of Technology in Atlanta. Upon completing his technical aviation training, he was sent to Kelly Field, TX, for flight training. McMullen received his wings on 6 March 1918, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Aviation Section of the Signal Reserve Corps, where he continued his training in aerial combat.

In July 1918, he became Officer-in-Charge of flying at the Gunnery School at Rockwell Field, CA, and later joined the 90th Aero Squadron at Eagle Pass, TX, for border patrol duty. Shortly after, he became the Flight Commander of the First Surveillance Group at the same station. In 1920, Lieutenant McMullen was commissioned in the Regular Army with the same rank and, on 20 October, was promoted to First Lieutenant. In January 1921, he was sent to Camp Nichols in the Philippine Islands with the Second Observation Squadron and later transferred to the Third Pursuit Squadron at Clark Field, Philippines.

During the time span between WWI and WWII, aviation rapidly advanced and air races and competitions were very popular. The U.S. Army encouraged its pilots to participate in these events so they would gain experience and increase awareness for military aviation. McMullen represented the Army Air Corps in a number of aviation competitions. Using a Fokker CO4 traveling at the amazing speed of 139 miles per hour, he won the Liberty Engine Builders Trophy Race held at St. Louis Field, MO, in 1923.

In February 1930, Lieutenant's McMullen and W.W. White broke a number of flying records using a Lockheed-Vega monoplane powered by a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine. They broke the flying record from New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina, by flying an estimated 6,870 miles in an official time of 52 hours and 15 minutes; an average speed of 130 miles per hour. In charting their flight, they used a route that also broke the record for flying from New York to Miami, FL. While breaking the New York to Buenos Aires record, they also achieved an aviation first; it was the first time a nonstop flight was made between the U.S. and the Panama Canal. Upon reaching their Argentinian destination, the young aviators were given a hero's welcome and their exploits were radioed around the world.

In 1926, McMullen married Adelaide Palmer Lewis Newman, the widow of Army Major Arthur D. Newman, who was killed in a government polo match on 1 July 1922. She and Newman had two children: Edward Lewis Newman born 19 April 1919; and Frank McCoy Newman born 12 September 1920. Clements adopted both children and legally changed their names to McMullen. Adelaide was the daughter of Major General Edward Mann Lewis, USMA Class of 1886, whose brother was Major General Henry Balding Lewis, USMA Class of 1913.

McMullen entered the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field, OH, in July 1928. After graduation in June 1929, he remained at the school as Chief of the Repair Branch, Experimental Engineering Section, Air Corps Material Division. By 1932, he was Chief of the Power Plant Branch and promoted to Captain. Later, as Chief of the Power Plant Branch, McMullen introduced turbo-super-chargers and fuel injection into U.S. Air Corps' operations. In 1933, McMullen entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, AL; he graduated in June 1934 and remained at Maxwell as the Base Engineering Officer.

McMullen went to Langley Field, VA, as Assistant Operations and Training Officer (G-3), General Headquarters Air Force, in March 1935. He was later made Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training (G-3), and promoted to Major in July 1936. In August 1937, McMullen attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS, graduating in June 1938. He was sent to the San Antonio Air Depot at Duncan Field, TX, and became Chief Engineering Officer. McMullen was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in December 1940 and assumed command of the Air Depot.

Brilliant at analyzing and solving logistical problems, McMullen also had a knack for foreseeing them. As Commander of the Air Depot, he submitted proposals for expansions that would become crucial with the advent of World War II. In 1941, he pleaded for reorganization of the Kelly, Duncan, Brooks, and Stinson Air Bases that were all within a few miles of each other near San Antonio. Recognizing the potential danger, he suggested solutions to remedy the problem and a number of them were eventually implemented.

In January 1942, McMullen became Commanding Officer of the Third Air Service Area Command, Atlanta, GA, and was promoted to Colonel. In June, he was promoted to Brigadier General. He was transferred to the Air Service Command Headquarters, Washington, DC, in August 1942, and appointed Chief of the Maintenance Division. At the time, the Gravely Point Depot located near Washington National Airport was experiencing logistic issues that impacted both its effectiveness, and the war effort. Half of the aircraft that relied on parts from Gravely Point were grounded due to a lack of parts. The protocol required to order parts was creating a breakdown within the depot. Once the problem was identified, General Hap Arnold resolved it by closing the materiel office at Gravely Point and transferring logistics control to Air Service Command Headquarters in Dayton, OH. A short time later, McMullen was sent to Dayton to take on the same job he held in Washington. In April 1943, he was promoted to Major General.

General Arnold offered McMullen's services to General George Kenney in September 1944 for the Far Eastern Air Service Command. Kenny accepted the offer, as he knew McMullen "was tops in the supply and maintenance field." McMullen reported to Kenney on 13 October 1944, for duty as Commanding General of the Far Eastern Air Service Command. He was to take care of the needs of the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces in the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) and proved to be the perfect person for the job. He performed his duties with precision and his headquarters were first located in Australia, then in New Guinea, and finally, in the Philippines.

After the end of WWII, General MacArthur merged the Far East Air Forces and the U.S. Strategic Air Forces, creating the Pacific Air Command, U.S. Army (PACUSA). General Kenney was given command of PACUSA and, in December 1945, appointed McMullen as Chief of Staff, PACUSA with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. In October 1946, McMullen was ordered to return to Air Force HQ in Washington. In November, he briefly took command of Eighth Air Force located at Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, TX, and then turned that command over to Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey in January 1947.

In March 1946, General Kenney had been named Commanding General of the newly formed Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Andrews AFB, MD, and, in January 1947, he named McMullen as his Deputy Commander. In March, McMullen also assumed the duties of Chief of Staff of SAC. Burdened with too many responsibilities outside of SAC, Kenney failed to make SAC a top priority until it was too late. Instead, he delegated broad powers and the everyday running of SAC to McMullen, who had the mindset of a logistics air materiel supply officer. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Air Force Chief of Staff, asked Charles A. Lindbergh to inspect six SAC bases and Lindbergh filed his report in September 1948. Citing McMullen's program, he stated that SAC was suffering from low standards of professionalism, morale and proficiency; he also said that there were many personnel disruptions and that cross-training policies "seriously interfered with training in the primary mission of the atomic squadrons." The following month, Vandenberg replaced Kenney along with his Deputy Commander, McMullen.

While he was Deputy Commander of SAC, a historical event took place that has become one of McMullen's 'famous' episodes. In July 1947, the Roswell UFO incident that involved the 509th Bomb Wing located at Roswell Army Air Field, NM, took place. As a SAC base, the 509th was under the direct command of the Strategic Air Command and had been selected to drop atomic bombs on Japan at the end of WWII; making it the only nuclear-capable Wing. Because of its experience with atomic weapons, the 509th was the core atomic organization of SAC and therefore under the direct command of General's Kenney and McMullen. It has been reported that McMullen, acting as the Deputy Commander of SAC, gave direct orders to create a cover story for the incident, thereby creating what has become known as the government cover-up of the Roswell UFO incident. [The space allotted for this biography does not allow a discussion of this incident, either for or against the government' actions.]

In October 1948, McMullen became Commanding General of the San Antonio Air Material Area (SAAMA) located at Kelly AFB, TX. On 25 June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and SAAMA responded with the Air Force's top expert in logistics and air materiel at its helm. Within three days, Air Materiel Command (AMC) initiated Project Hold-Off that held back items going to other destinations and gave those items priority for the Far East. The supply personnel at Kelly worked two shifts, seven days a week, and processed all requests for the Far East Air Forces within 24-hours of receipt. In the months to come, the supply staff at Kelly would complete 50-60 percent of the overall work load of Project Hold-Off. By December 1950, it was clear the police action in Korea wouldn't end soon and SAAMA must also supply the needs of the Air Force within the continental U.S. The AMC adopted the "Two-Zone Support System" and SAAMA was responsible for bases within the United States west of the Mississippi River; Pacific air bases; and the Korean War effort. SAAMA successfully met every demand placed upon it.

During the early years of the Cold War, America's deterrent against a Soviet threat was the B-36 Peacemaker, a long-range bomber that could deliver a nuclear blow to any place in the world. Initially, SAAMA was the maintenance depot for the engines used on the B-36, but by the spring of 1952, SAAMA had complete responsibility for the B-36 within the western bi-zonal area. Under McMullen's command, SAAMA was responsible for maintaining SAC's nuclear might.

On 20 October 1952, McMullen celebrated 35 years of active duty in the service of his country, but he had one large project he wanted to complete before retiring. The multitude of employees going to and from Kelly AFB was creating road congestion at the changing of shifts, as well as parking problems at the base. He put forth the idea of a four-lane super highway that would run from Kelly AFB to the north side of San Antonio, and bus routes would be added to alleviate parking problems. He worked vigorously with local officials for the expansion of Stephenson Road and helped obtain federal grants to finance the new artery. Construction began in February 1954 and, for his work in making the expansion a reality, and in recognition of all that he had done for San Antonio as the Commanding Officer of SAAMA and Kelly AFB, the City Council voted unanimously to name the Stephenson Road expansion in honor of Major General Clements McMullen.

At the age of 62, McMullen retired on 28 February 1954, after 37 years of active military service. At retirement, he was the oldest active pilot in the U.S. Air Force and in command of the largest air depot in the world (23,463 employees). He was one of the longest-serving local commanders in the history of Kelly AFB and was loved and admired by the civilian workers and the officers and airmen under his command. His retirement was marked by one of the largest military celebrations in the history of the service. It was attended by thousands of Kelly AFB civilian employees and military personnel, 62 active and retired USAF generals, and 238 city, county and federal, distinguished guests. The U.S. Air Force Band played while 1,800 troops passed in review and an aerial salute flew overhead.

Major General McMullen was a Command Pilot, Combat Observer and Technical Observer. He had flown a multitude of different types of AAF and USAF fighter and bomber aircraft, including the XC-99.

Medals and Awards

Army Distinguished Service Medal (3 Awards)
Air Medal
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal (Japan)
Philippine Liberation Ribbon with Service Star
Philippine Independence Ribbon


Command Pilots Badge

In Retirement

McMullen and Adelaide continued living in San Antonio. He became an active civic worker behind the scenes. He was made a Director of the Chamber of Commerce and appointed Chairman of the Chamber's Industrial Committee. He helped organize the Greater San Antonio Development Committee and was a member of its Executive Committee. He was also a board member of the Wolff & Marx department store in San Antonio.

In 1958, McMullen was diagnosed with a chronic heart condition.


Edward Lewis McMullen, the oldest son by adoption, entered the military prior to WWII and received his commission through OCS at Fort Sill. He served the entire war as a Forward Observer in the 113th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Division. For his actions, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal (2 Awards) and the Purple Heart (2 Awards). After the war, he graduated from Texas A&I University with a degree in Petroleum Engineering.

Frank McCoy McMullen, the second son by adoption, graduated from the USMA in 1943 and served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII. Frank flew missions out of England with the 490th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, in B-24s and B-17s and was awarded the Air Medal. He remained in the Air Force following the war.

Thomas Henry McMullen, the oldest of the general's biological sons, began college at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, and transferred to the USMA where he graduated in 1951. He had a distinguished career in the Air Force and retired as a Lieutenant General.

William C. McMullen, was also too young to serve in the military during WWII. He earned his pilot wings in 1953 at Foster Air Force Base, Victoria, TX, and served with distinction.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Clements McMullen was admitted to the Lackland AFB Hospital for treatment on 9 January 1959, but died at 6:15 a.m. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX. He was survived by his wife, Adelaide, and four sons.

Honoree ID: 3291   Created by: MHOH




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