Retired Sep. 1, 1965. Died Aug. 5, 1987.
Clair L. Wood was born in El Reno, Okla., in 1908. His early years were spent in Seward and Meade counties of southwestern Kansas. He completed high school at Meade, Kan., in 1927 and entered the University of Kansas at Lawrence where he received the degree of bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1932.
While at the university, he was a member of Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity and was elected to Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Tau, the national engineering honor fraternities. The year following his graduation, he was named by the university for the Men's Honor Award as the outstanding member of his graduating class.
His first military appointment was as a second lieutenant, engineering reserve, upon completion of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps Course in 1931. He was an ROTC honor graduate. He enlisted as a flying cadet in October 1932, and has been in active service since that date. After flying training at Randolph and Kelly fields, he received his pilot rating and commission in the Air Reserve. He has held the rating of command pilot since 1943.
Lieutenant Wood's first active duty assignment was with the 91st Observation Squadron at Crissy Field, San Francisco, Calif. With this unit, he participated in the Army Air Corps' air mail operation in the winter and spring of 1934.
Following his permanent integration into the Regular Air Corps in July of 1935, under the provisions of the Thomason Act, he was transferred to March Field, Calif., where he served with the 17th Attack Group and the 19th Bombardment Group. He was sent to the Engineering Maintenance Course at Chanute Field, Ill., in 1938. Upon completion, he was retained in the expanded training organization, which was established as part of the 1939 Air Corps expansion program, and spent the early war years in the Training Command. In this work, which involved tours at the new technical school at Goldsboro, N.C., and headquarters at Fort Worth and Denver, he earned the Legion of Merit.
Colonel Wood was sent to the European Theater of Operations late in the war and participated in six combat missions over Germany. He remained for one year occupational duty with U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, before serving a tour in Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
Following graduation from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1951, Colonel Wood served as chief of staff, 5001st Composite Wing, and later as base commander, at Ladd Air Force Base, Fairbanks, Alaska. Subsequent assignments were as deputy commander, Sampson Air Force Base, N.Y., 1953-1955, and as deputy commander and chief of staff at Headquarters Technical Training Air Force, Gulfport, Miss., 1955-1958. In the latter assignment, he was awarded an oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit.
Upon consolidation of Headquarters Technical Training Air Force with Headquarters Air Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Colonel Wood served briefly as deputy commander, Lackland Air Force Base, before appointment as inspector general, Air Training Command. While in this position, he received his temporary appointment as brigadier general in June 1959 and was moved to the position of deputy chief of staff, Personnel, in the same headquarters.