graduate

O'Donnell, Emmett (1906-1972)


Photograph of Emmett O'Donnell

U.S. Air Force

"Rosie" O'Donnell was commissioned in the infantry following graduation from West Point, where he had been a substitute halfback on the football team. He switched to the Air Corps almost at once and participated in the air mail service of the mid-1930s. He later led the first bombardment squadron to the Philippines during the 1941 buildup, and after war broke out, he led an attack against the Japanese force off Vigan in which his bomb release failed during five passes over the target.

Evacuated to Java and then India, he was assigned to 10 Air Force until 1943, when he was recalled to Washington to serve as an advisor to "Hap" Arnold. He then trained one of the first B-29 wings, 73 Bombardment Wing, and personally led it on its first raid on Tokyo on 24 November 1944. He continued leading the wing until the Japanese surrender.

St. Clair McKelway, a journalist turned Air Force officer, described O'Donnell as possessing "vividly articulate Irish-American Brooklyn-born lightheartedness, humor, and spiritual gaiety, except for an inner toughness and thoughtfulness which the pale face subtly intimates" (quoted by Larrabee 1987).

Postwar O'Donnell led the Far East Bomber Command during the Korean War.

Service record

1906     

Born at Brooklyn
1924

Graduates from Manual Training High School
1928
Second lieutenant     
Graduates from West Point
1930-3     

Completes pilot training. Assigned to 1 Pursuit Group.
1934

Assistant football coach, West Point
1935-4-20     
Captain
94 Pursuit Squadron
1936-12

18 Reconnaissance Group
1939-8

Air Corps Tactical School
1940-2

11 Bombardment Group
1941-1
Major
Commander, 14 Bombardment Squadron
1941-12-12     

Commander, 19 Bombardment Group
1942-1
Lieutenant colonel     
Staff, Far East Air Force
1942-2-12

Staff, 10 Air Force
1942-3
Colonel

1943

Chief, Air Force Advisory Council
1944-3-15
Brigadier general
Commander, 73 Bombardment Wing
1945

Deputy chief, Engineering Division, Air Technical Service Command
1946-8

Director of information
1947-2
Major general

1947-9

Deputy director of public relations
1948-1

Permanent Joint Board on Defense
1948-10

Commander, 15 Air Force
1953
Lieutenant general     
Deputy chief of personnel
1959-8
General
Commander, Pacific Air Forces
1963-7-31

Retires
1972-1-1



References

Generals.dk (accessed 2011-7-19)

Larrabee (1987)

Pettibone (2006)

U.S. Air Force (accessed 2011-7-19)



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