Retired. Died April 27, 1986.
Brigadier General Ernest K. Waburton was born at Norwood, Mass, in 1904. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor of science degree in 1926 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Service Reserve on June 8, 1926.
He won his Junior Air Pilot wings at Brooks Field in March 1927 and his Air Pilot wings at Kelly Field in 1928. In February 1929 he received his regular commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Corps.
In 1931 he entered the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field, (forerunner of the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology) and upon graduation a year later joined the 94th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge.
He flew the air mail on the "mountain run" between Newark and Cleveland, during the period the Army took over this service, and later became chief of the Air Materiel Command's Flight Test Division at Wright Field, Ohio. During this latter period he flew more than 2,500 hours as an experimental test pilot and tested some 250 different types of aircraft. He also flight tested numerous English, Japanese and German aircraft during World War II.
In September 1944 he became deputy chief of staff for Plans of the Far East Air Service Command and the following December he assumed command of the 46th Air Service Group. It was during this period that he commanded the troops that made the first landing in Japan to prepare for the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur.
He was serving as vice commander of the 9th Air Force under TAC in 1952, when he went to Korea as deputy chief of staff, Operations, for Fifth Air Force. Later he became deputy commander of Fifth Air Force with the added duty of commanding general of the Taegu Area Command.
In June 1957 he took command of the Air Force Operational Test Center under the Air Proving Ground Command and in December of the same year became deputy commander for Development and Test of the Air Proving Ground Center, following the merger of the Air Proving Ground Command and the Air Force Armament Center.
Is fond of deer hunting with a rifle; likes to fish; enjoys working on and shooting all types of guns; and likes to relax by doing woodwork.
Member of the Episcopal Church.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Bronze Star Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Military Merit Ulichi Medal with Gold Star
Army of Occupation Medal (Japan)
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Philippine Independence Ribbon
World War II Victory Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award with six oak leaf clusters
OPINIONS, TASTES AND EVALUATIONS
Likes steak, seafood, and all sorts of outdoor barbecuing; partial to sports clothing; and would like to live in a large house in the country.
Stresses sincerity in his dealings with other officers. Requires that his subordinates have a desire to do the best possible job for the U.S. Air Force.
One associate evaluated General Warburton in the following manner. "An officer capable of both creating an Air Force and also leading it in action." Another longtime associate remarked, "I think so much of this man that I wouldn't hesitate to fly with him even in a washing machine. A superior pilot of both planes and people," is the way one person summed up his abilities.
In January 1931 General Warburton was a member of an Arctic patrol. During 1930-31 and 1936-37 he was leader of the Army Air Corps aerobatic team. In August 1945 General Warburton (then a colonel) commanded the first U.S. Air Force troops in Japan, arriving two days before General MacArthur.
Flying out of Selfridge Field, Mich., in 1931, he did a slow roll in a P-12 and the gas tank cap, located right in front of the open cockpit, came off, spreading gasoline all over the aircraft and the pilot. The gasoline soon caught fire, and at 300 feet altitude, he bailed out of the flaming aircraft. He suffered first, second and third degree burns in the accident, as well as incurring a back injury.