Retired Dec. 1, 1959. Died Dec. 22, 1974.
Brigadier General Elliott "Pete" Vandevanter Jr., was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1917. He is the son of the late Colonel Elliott Vandevanter, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. Since his father's activities required frequent moves, he attended many grade and high schools in different areas of the United States. He received a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy from the State of Virginia and graduated in 1939. He attended primary flying school at Parks Flying School, East St. Louis, Ill., and Randolph and Brooks fields. His first tactical assignment was to the 93rd Bomb Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, March Field, Calif. This B-17 squadron later opened the new base at Albuquerque and then pioneered an aerial highway across the Pacific to the Philippine Islands in October of 1941.
When the Japanese attacked the Philippines, Lieutenant Vandevanter was the pilot of a B-17 located at Del Monte Air Base. He piloted one of the five B-17s that made the first U. S. bombing attack of World War II against the Japanese landing force at Vigan. After several missions from the Philippines, Lieutenant Vandevanter moved with the organization to Java where they continued to operate until the Japanese took possession of the Island. Lieutenant Vandevanter, in the last tactical airplane, evacuated the group commander, Col. E.L. Eubanks, and an assortment of pilots whose aircraft had been destroyed. Lieutenant Vandevanter flew some 200 combat hours in the Pacific and was awarded the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. After arrival in Australia, Lieutenant Vandevanter was returned to the Zone of Interior.
As one of the few combat-experienced pilots available for training, Captain Vandevanter was assigned to several different training activities of the Second Air Force until February 1943. At this time, he activated the 385th Bomb Group at Spokane, Wash. In May 1943, he led this unit to England.
Colonel Vandevanter flew 24 operational missions from his base at Great Ashfield from June of 1943 through September of 1944. Among his targets were several trips to Berlin and other keep penetrations of Continental Europe. Colonel Vandevanter led one of the two aerial task forces on the first mission to Schwinfurt. After returning to the Zone of Interior, Colonel Vandevanter headed the Strategy Branch of Plans in Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Later, he was assigned to the Evaluation Division of the Air University, from 1947 until January of 1949, when he joined the Headquarters Strategic Air Command as chief of the War Plans Branch. In January 1951, Colonel Vandevanter activated the 305th Bombardment Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. This unit became the second Strategic Air Command wing to receive the B-47 jet bomber. Colonel Vandevanter logged approximately 800 hours of jet flying time. In the summer of 1954, he reported to the National War College and, on graduating, was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.
General Vandevanter is a graduate of the Army, Navy Staff College, 1945; the Air Command and Staff School, 1948; and the National War College, 1955. He has been awarded the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster; the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters; the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.