Retired May 31, 1963. Died Dec. 12, 1995.
Harold Lee Neely was born in Huntingdon, Tenn., in 1910. He attended Tennessee Polytechnic Institute from 1929 to 1931. He was appointed a flying cadet and entered flying training at Randolph Field, Texas, in February 1932. He completed flying training at Kelly Field, Texas, in February 1933, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve.
General Neely entered active duty in March 1933, with the 36th Pursuit Squadron of the 8th Pursuit Group at Langley Field, Va. He received his Regular commission July 12, 1935, and shortly thereafter was transferred to the 94th Pursuit Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group, at Selfridge Field, Mich. In December 1938, he entered the Air Corps Technical School at Lowry Field, Colo., graduated the following July, and remained at Lowry Field as a member of the technical school faculty with later assignments as squadron commander and 21st Air Base Group commander.
In August 1942, General Neely was assigned to the newly activated 12th Air Force Headquarters at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., as armament officer. The following month he went to England. Later the same year he went to North Africa with the 12th Air Force and in April 1943, became armament officer of the Northwest African Air Forces when the 12th Air Force was integrated with elements of the Royal Air Force to form an allied command. In December 1943, the 12th Air Force again became a separate headquarters when the allied forces moved to Italy. From this date, until his return to the United States in September 1944, General Neely served as executive officer to the assistant chief of staff, A-3, Headquarters 12th Air Force, in addition to his duties as armament officer.
Upon his return to the United States, General Neely was assigned to the Army Air Forces Eastern Technical Training Command as assistant chief of staff, A-3. In June 1945, he was transferred to the Army Air Forces Technical School at Chanute Field, Ill., as director of training and later as base executive officer. In February 1946, he was reassigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., as deputy chief of the Training Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations. He later became chief of the Training Division and remained in Washington until August 1948, when he was reassigned to Maxwell Field, Ala., to attend the Air War College.
Upon completion of the Air War College in July 1949, General Neely served one year as executive officer of the 3310th Technical Training Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. In July 1950, he was reassigned to Headquarters Air Training Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., as director of technical training, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, A-3. In July 1951, General Neely was transferred to the newly organized Technical Training Air Force, Gulfport, Miss., as assistant chief of staff, A-3. In July 1952, he left the Technical Training Air Force and spent the next year attending the National War College in Washington, D.C.
In July 1953 General Neely was assigned to Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as assistant chief of staff, operations. After one year in this assignment he was reassigned as chief of staff, Headquarters Twelfth Air Force. He returned to the United States in June 1956, assuming command of the 29th Air Division (Air Defense) Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. In November 1959 he was reassigned to the Armed Forces Staff Collage as deputy commandant for air. He assumed command of the 64th Air Division (Air Defense) July 31, 1961.
General Neely has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Commendation Ribbon. He is rated a command pilot.