Retired June 1, 1966. Died Nov. 28, 1980.
Arthur Jenkins Pierce was born in Greenfield, Mass., in 1909. He graduated from Turner's Falls High School in 1927 and from Northeastern University in 1932 with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He then applied for flying cadets and was appointed Feb. 20, 1933, at Springfield, Mass.
Arriving in San Antonio with his older brother, George E. Pierce, and a classmate from Northeastern, the Massachusetts contingent all graduated from flying school in February 1934. They were then assigned duty in the first class of flying cadets on active duty at Brooks Field with the 88th Observation Squadron. As a second lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve, Lieutenant Pierce moved with the 88th Squadron, redesignated the 88th Long Range Reconnaissance Squadron of the newly activated General Headquarters Air Corps, to Hamilton Field in the Fall of 1935.
He served at Hamilton for five years as pilot; squadron operations officer, group navigation and bombing officer, and finally as group operations officer of the 9th Bomb Group under such commanders as Tinker, Curry, Davenport Johnson, and generals McNarney and Stratemeyer. During this period, the 9th Bomb Group won the General Headquarters bombing contest in 1938 and proved the endurance of combat crews by flying 57 out of 72 hours on a General Headquarters exercise.
Lieutenant Pierce was commissioned in the Regular Air Corps in 1938 and assigned as aide-de-camp to General Tony Frank in 1940. During the service as aide, he actively participated in the organization of the first air defense command for the U.S., the 3d Air Force and the 8th Air Force Service Command in England, and later organized and commanded the 27th Air Transport Wing in the European theater. During the period as aide he was assigned as a special observer in England where he flew with the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force Bombardment Squadrons. In the latter part of 1942 and early 1943 he was appointed as staging commander for the dispatch of Air Corps units to Africa and personally briefed the three groups on their mission to Polesti.
Colonel Pierce returned to the United States in 1943 and after three months in the Air Materiel Command was assigned as group commander of the 466th Bomb Group which he took back to England in 1944 to participate in the first bombing mission on Berlin and the invasion of France. He later became chief of plans and requirements for Headquarters 8th Air Force.
It should be noted that he arrived in England as a first lieutenant which he remained until March 31, 1942, when he was promoted to a captain and major during one month, and to a full colonel during the next nine months.
During his missions he led the 8th Air Force as commander on missions to Epinal and the invasion of Europe, besides enjoying the air defenses at Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Leipzig, and Bordeaux. As a member of the Headquarters 8th Air Force he flew a medium altitude mission to Belgium and a fighter mission with the scouting forces in P-51s to Munich.
Upon return from Europe in 1945 he became chief of staff of the North Atlantic Wing of Air Transport Command at Manchester, N.H.; from there he joined the first class of the Air University. After graduating, Colonel Pierce was assigned with two other officers as the newly created Strategic Plans Division of U.S. Air Force headquarters, from whence he was assigned to the Joint Staff as the Air Force member of the Rainbow Team for the next three years. In 1950 he was assigned as student to the National War College and was detained at Fort McNair for the next two years as a member of the faculty. Upon release, he became chief of staff of the Far East Air Force and the U.S. Air Force representative to the Japanese government on the U.S.-Japanese Joint Committee.
During the period 1953 to 1956 he was promoted to brigadier general and decorated with the Third Order of the Rising Sun by the Prime Minister of Japan.
Upon return from the Far East, he became the director of plans and requirements for Continental Air Command and later for North American Air Defense Command.
General Pierce left NORAD and became deputy commander of the Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in August 1960, the position he held until Feb. 15, 1961, when he assumed command of ATIC, under the assistant chief of staff/intelligence, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In July 1961, the ATIC was redesignated the Foreign Technology Division of the Air Force Systems Command.