Retired July 31, 1953. Died March 30, 1980.
James Francis Joseph Early was born in Worcester, Mass., in 1901. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Service on June 12, 1923. He then graduated from the Air Service Balloon and Airship School in 1924, from the Chemical Warfare School in 1926, and from the Special Observation Course of the Advanced Flying School in 1928. Subsequently, General Early served at various fields in the United States and Hawaii as a lighter-than-air pilot and heavier-than-air observer.
In 1936 he entered the Primary Flying School and upon completion of the course transferred to the Advanced Flying School, from which he graduated in June 1937. He then served as supply officer at Langley Air Force Base, Va. In June 1939, he was transferred to the Production Engineering Section at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
In May 1942, General Early was assigned to Air Force headquarters as a technical inspector for Fourth Air Force installations. He was made deputy director of technical inspection at that headquarters in July 1942, and two months later became director of technical inspection.
General Early returned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in January 1943, as chief of the Aircraft Section of the Supply Division. The following March he became assistant chief of the Supply Division at that base and in this capacity was responsible for the change of the Air Force supply system from a peacetime to wartime basis. He also made monthly inspection tours of the European, African and South American Supply divisions of the Air Force.
In April 1944, he was appointed special assistant to the commanding general of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe to reorganize the supply system. Two months later he became chief of the Supply Division of the Ninth Air Force Service Command in England, and in November 1944, was named commanding officer of the Eighth Air Force Service Command in that theater.
In April 1945, General Early was appointed chief of the Policy Branch of the War Department General Staff. Three months later he went to Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to become assistant chief of staff for supply of the headquarters Eighth Air Force Detachment.
General Early rejoined the Eighth Air Force in Europe as assistant chief of staff for supply in August 1945, and served in that capacity until April 1946, when he returned to the United States for hospitalization at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. A month later he became secretary of the Air Force Technical Committee, with station at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and in September 1947, was appointed chief of the Supply Division at that base.
In September 1951, General Early was assigned to Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in Europe at Paris, France, as assistant chief of the Logistics Division.
General Early has been awarded the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star Medal. He is rated a command pilot, balloon pilot, balloon observer and senior aircraft observer.
He was promoted to first lieutenant (permanent) Feb. 14, 1928; to captain (permanent) Aug. 1, 1935; to major (temporary) March 11, 1940; to major (permanent) July 1, 1940; to lieutenant colonel (temporary) Nov. 15, 1941; to colonel (temporary) March 1, 1942; to lieutenant colonel (permanent) June 12, 1946; to colonel (permanent) April 2, 1948; to brigadier general (temporary) Dec. 21, 1948.