Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Carl

Last Name: Spaatz

Birthplace: Boyertown, PA, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Andrew

Date of Birth: 28 June 1891

Date of Death: 14 July 1974

Rank: General

Years Served: 1914 - 1948
Carl Andrew Spaatz

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1914

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


Carl Andrew 'Tooey' Spaatz
General / U.S. Air Force

Carl Andrew Spatz was born on 28 June 1891. He added the second "a" to his last name in 1937 at the request of his wife and daughters to clarify the pronunciation of the name, as many pronounced it "spats." He added the second "a" to draw it out to sound like "ah", like the "a" in "father." (The correct pronunciation is "Spahtz.")

Military Career

Spaatz received his nickname of 'Tooey' while at the U.S. Military Academy because of his likeness to another red-headed cadet named F. J. Toohey. He graduated from West Point on 12 June 1914 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. He was assigned as a student in the Signal Corps Aviation School at San Diego, CA, between 13 October 1915 and 15 May 1916. After completion of his pilot training, he was detached to the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, in Mexico on 8 June 1916.

During the Punitive Expedition, Spaatz served in the First Aero Squadron, which was attached to General John J. Pershing's command. Spaatz was promoted to First Lieutenant on 1 July 1916 and to Captain on 15 May 1917.

World War I

After America's entry into World War I, Spaatz was sent with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in command of the 31st Aero Squadron. Spaatz was initially appointed Officer in Charge, American Aviation School at Issoudun, France. However, after receiving orders to return to the U.S., he had the opportunity to participate in three weeks of action during the final months of the war as an extra pilot with the 13th Aero Squadron. In this short time, Spaatz shot down three enemy planes and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor. During this period, on 17 June 1918, he was promoted to the temporary rank of Major.

Distinguished Service Cross

CITATION: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, 9 July 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major (Air Service) Carl Andrew Spatz (ASN: 0-3706), United States Army Air Service, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 13th Aero Squadron, U.S. Army Air Service, A.E.F., during the St. Mihiel offensive, 26 September 1918. Although he had received orders to go to the United States, Major Spatz begged for and received permission to serve with a pursuit squadron at the front. Subordinating himself to men of lower rank, he was attached to a squadron as a pilot and saw continuous and arduous service through the offensive. As a result of his efficient work he was promoted to the position of night commander. Knowing that another attack was to take place in the vicinity of Verdun, he remained on duty in order to take part. On the day of the attack west of the Meuse, while with his patrol over enemy lines, a number of enemy aircraft were encountered. In the combat that followed he succeeded in bringing down three enemy planes. In his ardor and enthusiasm he became separated from his patrol while following another enemy far beyond the lines. His gasoline giving out, he was forced to land and managed to land within friendly territory. Through these acts he became an inspiration and example to all men with whom he was associated.

The Inter-War Years

In 1919, he served in California and Texas; in July he became Assistant Department Air Service Officer for the Western Department. Spaatz experienced the chaotic ups and downs in rank common to Regular Army officers in 1920, when the National Defense Act of 1920 reorganized the military. He first reverted to his permanent rank of Captain of Infantry on 27 February 1920.

When the Air Service became a combatant arm on 1 July 1920, he transferred to the Air Service as a Captain. He was then promoted to Major on the same day by virtue of a provision in the National Defense Act that allowed officers who earned their rank in service with the AEF to retain it. This made him senior to a number of officers, including Henry H. Arnold (his superior at the time), and with greater longevity of service. On 18 December 1922, he was discharged when Congress set a new ceiling on the number of Majors authorized in the Air Service, and reappointed as a Captain. On 1 February 1923, he was again promoted to Major.

As a Major, he commanded Kelly Field, TX, from 5 October 1920 to February 1921; served at Fort Sam Houston as Air Officer of the Eighth Corps Area until November 1921; and was Commanding Officer of the 1st Pursuit Group, first at Ellington Field, TX, and later at Selfridge Field, MI until 24 September 1924. He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School at Langley Field, VA, in June 1925 and then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington, DC.

From 1-7 January 1929 Spaatz, along with fellow Air Corps officers Captain Ira Eaker and Lieutenant Elwood Quesada, both of whom would later become senior U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) generals, established an aviation record by keeping the airplane Question Mark airborne over the vicinity of Los Angeles for more than 150 hours.

From 8 May 1929 to 29 October 1931, Spaatz commanded the 7th Bombardment Group at Rockwell Field, CA, and the 1st Bombardment Wing at March Field, CA, until 10 June 1933. He then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps and became Chief of the Training and Operations Division. In August 1935, he enrolled in the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KS and while there was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 16 September. He graduated in June 1936, and then served at Langley Field on the staff of Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, commander of General Headquarters Air Force, until January 1939, when he returned to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington as Assistant Executive Officer.

On 7 November 1939, Spaatz received a temporary promotion to Colonel and, during the Battle of Britain in 1940, spent several weeks in England as a special military observer. In August 1940, he was assigned in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, and two months later was appointed Assistant to the Chief of Air Corps, General Arnold, with the temporary rank of Brigadier General. He became Chief of the Plans Division of the Air Corps in November 1940, and the following July was named Chief of the Air Staff at Army Air Forces Headquarters.

World War II

Arnold named Spaatz Commander of Air Forces Combat Command in January 1942 and promoted him to the temporary rank of Major General. In May 1942, Spaatz became commander of the Eighth Air Force and transferred its headquarters to England in July. Spaatz was placed in overall command of the USAAF in the European Theater of Operations, while retaining his Eighth Air Force command. He was promoted to the permanent rank of Colonel in September 1942 and subsequently assigned command of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa in December 1942. He was named Commander of the Allied Northwest African Air Force in February 1943; the Fifteenth Air Force and Royal Air Forces in Italy in November 1943; and the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe in January 1944. Spaatz received a temporary promotion to Lieutenant General in March 1943.

As Commander of Strategic Air Forces, Spaatz directed the U.S. portion of the strategic bombing campaign against Germany. He directed the England-based Eighth Air Force, which was now commanded by Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle, and the Italy-based Fifteenth Air Force, which was now commanded by Lieutenant General Nathan Twining.

Spaatz, as Commander of Strategic Air Forces in Europe, was under the direct command of General Dwight Eisenhower. In March 1944, Spaatz proposed the Oil Plan for bombing. During the Operation Crossbow priority bombing of V-1 sites aimed at the UK in June 1944, Spaatz asked for, and received, authorization from Eisenhower to bomb those targets as a lower priority. Spaatz also identified that "…the chimera of one air operation that will end the war…does not exist," and advocated Tedder's plan "which retained the Oil System in first position, but more clearly placed Germany's Rail System in second priority," which encouraged Eisenhower to overrule Air Ministry fears that the "thrust against the oil industry" might be weakened. Spaatz's Oil Plan became the highest bombing priority in September 1944. After the war, Eisenhower said that Spaatz, along with General Omar Bradley, was one of the two American general officers who had contributed the most to the victory in Europe.

Spaatz received a temporary promotion to the rank of General on 11 March 1945. He was transferred to the Pacific and assumed command of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific as part of the Pacific Theatre of Operations, with headquarters on Guam, in July 1945. From this command, Spaatz directed the strategic bombing of Japan, including the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Spaatz had been present at Reims when the Germans surrendered to the Americans on 7 May 1945; at Berlin when they surrendered to the Russians on 9 May; and he was aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered on 2 September. He was the only man of General (or equivalent) rank present at all three of these acts of surrender.

In July 1945, President Truman nominated Spaatz for promotion to the permanent rank of Major General.

Post-World War II

Spaatz was appointed Commanding General of the Army Air Forces in February 1946 following Arnold's retirement. After the creation of the independent Air Force by the National Security Act of 1947 and Truman's Executive Order No. 9877, Spaatz was appointed as the first Chief of Staff of the new U.S. Air Force in September 1947. Spaatz retired from the U.S. Air Force at the four-star rank of General on 30 June 1948.


Spaatz worked for Newsweek magazine as its Military Affairs Editor until 1961. He also served on the Committee of Senior Advisors to the Air Force Chief of Staff, from 1952 until his death. From 1948 until 1959, he served as National Commander of the Civil Air Patrol. In 1954, Spaatz was appointed to the Congressional Advisory Board set up to determine the site for the new U.S. Air Force Academy.

Medals and Awards

General Carl Andrew Spaatz was rated as a Command Pilot and as a Combat Observer. He also received the following medals and awards:

Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Mexican Interior Campaign Medal
World War I Victory Medal with 3 Battle Stars
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 6 Battle Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Knight Grand Cross and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the Crown with Palms (Belgium)
Belgian Croix de Guerre, with Palm
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor (France)
Croix de Guerre with Palm (France)
Commander's Cross with Star (Krzyż Komandorski z Gwiazdą), Order of Polonia Restituta (Poland)
Grand Officer, Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)
Order of Suvorov 2d Class (Soviet Union)

Spaatz also received the 1944 Collier Trophy for "demonstrating the air power concept through employment of American aviation in the war against Germany."


• The Civil Air Patrol's highest cadet award is the General Carl A. Spaatz Award.
• Carl A. Spaatz Field is the regional airport serving Reading, PA. It is also home to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum.
• Spaatz is the exemplar for the U.S. Air Force Academy's Class of 2006.
• National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at 1100 Spaatz Street at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH.
• General Spaatz Boulevard is located adjacent to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) intersecting Tamiami Trail / US 41.
• The Outstanding Air Refueling Squadron in the USAF is annually awarded the Gen Carl A. Spaatz Trophy

Death and Burial

General Carl Andrew Spaatz died on 14 July 1974. He is buried at the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, CO, in Plot 3D78.

Final Remarks

Carl Andrew 'Tooey' Spaatz was one of the highly-talented aviation pioneers that the U.S. military was so blessed to have when it came time to add aviation as a combat arm. Spaatz was there every step of the way, having served in the following (in sequence):

United States Army
Air Service, U.S. Army
United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force

And, along with his fellow aviation pioneers, his value to our country was truly proven by his service during World War II. Dwight D. Eisenhower made that apparent after the war when he said that "Spaatz, along with General Omar Bradley, was one of the two American general officers who had contributed the most to the victory in Europe."

Spaatz attained the highest rank possible in the U.S. Army Air Forces; he was the second, and last, man to be its Commanding General. He was also the first Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.

General, we thank you for your great service in preserving our country's freedoms. May you rest in peace knowing that you truly embodied the ideals of "Duty, Honor, Country."

Honoree ID: 845   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image