Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Maurice

Last Name: Preston

Birthplace: Weed, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Arthur

Date of Birth: 25 November 1912

Date of Death: 25 January 1983

Rank: General

Years Served:
Maurice Arthur Preston

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1937

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Maurice Arthur Preston

General, U.S. Air Force

Maurice Arthur Preston was born in Weed, CA, on 25 November 1912, and graduated from high school in Tulare, CA, in 1931. After attending Saint Mary's College of California, he entered the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated on 12 June 1937 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Military Career

He completed flying school at Kelly Field, TX, in October 1938, and then served in various squadron positions before he was assigned as Commander of the 62nd Bombardment Squadron at Davis-Monthan Field, AZ, in 1941. He later became Deputy Group Commander of the 34th Bombardment Group there.

In June 1942, he was transferred to Gowen Field, ID, and served as Deputy Group Commander of the 34th Bombardment Group and then as Deputy Commander of the 29th Bombardment Group. In January 1943, he became Commander of the 379th Bombardment Group at Wendover Field, UT.

Preston took the 379th to Europe in early 1943 and flew 45 combat missions in the B-17 Flying Fortress. He participated in the now-historic Schweinfurt raids, leading the second one on 13 April 1944. He commanded the 41st Bombardment Wing from October 1944 until May 1945, when he returned to the U.S. Preston was then assigned as Base Commander of the 231st Army Air Force Base Unit at Alamogordo, NM.

In August 1946, he enrolled as a student at the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Field, AL and, upon graduating in June 1947, became the Chief, Inter-American Security Branch and Military Coordinating Committee, of the Permanent Joint Board of Defense Canada and U.S. in Washington, D.C. He later joined the Plans Division of Air Force Headquarters in Washington.

Going overseas in 1949, Preston was appointed Deputy Commander for Plans and Operations of the U.S. Northeastern Command, with duty station at St. Johns, Newfoundland.

Assigned to the Strategic Air Command in March 1952, Preston became Commander of the 308th Bombardment Wing (Medium) at Hunter Air Force Base, GA. In January 1954 he assumed Command of the Strategic Air Command's 4th Air Division at Barksdale Air Force Base, LA.

Reassigned to Air Force Headquarters, Washington in May 1956, he was named Deputy Director of Operations in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations. He assumed the position of Director of Operations in August 1957.

On 25 July 1960, Preston became Commander of the Tactical Air Command's Nineteenth Air Force, often termed "the suitcase Air Force" because of its ability to move instantly anywhere in the world as the command nucleus and planning elements of the Tactical Air Command's Composite Air Strike Force. He became Commander, U.S. Forces Japan and Commander, Fifth Air Force, in August 1963.

On 1 August 1966, Preston was promoted to the four-star rank of General and assigned Command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

Preston retired from the Air Force on 1 August 1968.

During his career, Preston logged some 7,000 flying hours in just about every type of aircraft within the U.S. Air Force. He was rated as a Navigator and Bombardier, and in addition to being a Command Pilot, he became the first Air Force officer of his rank to go through the Army's Airborne school, earning his Basic Parachutist Badge in October 1960.

In July 1966, his Imperial Highness, Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan, conferred Japan's First Order of the Sacred Treasure on Preston, who was then Commander of the U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force. The award, one of the highest the Government of Japan bestows upon a foreign military officer, was presented to General Preston by Defense Minister Raizo Matsuno and General Yoshifusa Amano, chairman of the Joint Staff Council, Japan Defense Agency.

Medals and Awards

Silver Star Medal (2 Awards)

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Distinguished Flying Cross (3 Awards)

Bronze Star Medal

Air Medal (8 Awards)

Army Commendation Medal

Purple Heart

Death and Burial

General Maurice Arthur Preston died on 25 January 1983. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 815   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image