Retired Aug. 31, 1963.
Travis Monroe Hetherington was born in Reagan, Texas, in 1908. He graduated from Reagan High School in 1926 and entered Tyler Business College and later Texas A&M. In 1929, he received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated in 1933, 66th in a class of 347.
Second Lieutenant Hetherington's initial assignment was that of student officer at Randolph Field, Texas. In 1934, he received his pilot's wings at Kelly Field, and today is rated a command pilot, current in both the B-47 Stratojet and the KC-97.
Lieutenant Hetherington's first assignment after Kelly Field was with the 72nd Bombardment Squadron on Ford Island, located in Pearl Harbor. In 1936, he was ordered to Chanute Field, Ill., where he attended the Communications Officers' Course. He was retained there as an instructor. From 1939 to 1945, he was the director of various Radio and Radar Schools, two of these he organized and activated. They were the largest technical schools in the Air Training Command. During this period, he was progressively promoted from first lieutenant to colonel. Such activities earned Colonel Hetherington the Army Commendation Ribbon, and later in 1945 the Legion of Merit.
In 1945, Colonel Hetherington was ordered to the Pacific Theater where he was appointed deputy chief of staff and later A-3 of the Fifth Bomber Command. In 1946, he became assistant chief of staff for operations, Fifth Air Force. For his particularly superior ability and diligent work in the Fifth Bomber Command, he was awarded the Second Army Commendation Ribbon. From July 1947 to July 1948, he commanded the 315th Composite Wing in Fifth Air Force, Japan.
Upon returning to the U.S. from Japan in August 1948, Colonel Hetherington entered the Air War College from which he graduated in 1949. His next assignment was as commander of the U.S. Air Force Security Service at Brooks Field, Texas. In January 1951, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he became deputy director of the National Security Agency. For the next two and one-half years, while working as deputy director of NSA, Colonel Hetherington attended The George Washington University two nights each week. He received his master's degree in advanced management from that institution in November 1953.
Following graduation from the National War College in 1954, Colonel Hetherington was appointed director of operations of the 806th Air Division Lake Charles Air Force Base, La. During this assignment he attended the B-47 Transition School at McConnell Air Force Base. When the 379th Bombardment Wing (Medium) was activated at Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., he was designated its commander. On May 31, 1957, he assumed command of the 823rd Air Division at Homestead, being promoted to brigadier general in July 1957.
In June 1957, he was awarded an oak leaf cluster to the Commendation Ribbon. The citation which accompanied this award read in part: "As commander, 379th Bombardment Wing, Colonel Hetherington continually exhibited the highest qualities of leadership and resourcefulness in developing his organization within the time limitations from a small cadre to a highly effective and efficient combat unit ... (he) surmounted many obstacles prevalent in building a formidable bombardment wing, applying mature judgment and enthusiasm to enable his unit to assume its position as an integral part of the command mission."
General Hetherington was awarded the first oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit in October 1958 for distinguishing himself by meritorious conduct of outstanding service during the period June 1, 1957 to Aug. 15, 1958 as commander, 823rd Air Division, Strategic Air Command. The citation stated: "The professional and aggressive leadership displayed by General Hetherington had a profound effect upon the buildup of Homestead Air Force Base, and was a significant factor in making his command an integral element in the striking force of the Strategic Air Command."
Following his assignment with the 823rd Air Division, General Hetherington was a student at the Military Assistance Institute, Arlington, Va. Later, in November 1958, he became chief, Air Force Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Japan.
In July 1959, the general assumed command of the 39th Air Division, Japan. Two years later, he became deputy chief of staff, plans and operations, Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
Has an extensive collection of books and articles on top management techniques, communications, and human relations; is very fond of fishing, boating and water sports. He has, also, a large collection of 35mm color slides taken all over the world.
Has been a Boy Scout Leader, and is active with teenage and youth clubs, and the Parent Teachers Association.
OPINIONS, TASTES AND EVALUATIONS
"He who will command must first learn to obey" is his favorite motto. For all those who know him, the expression "Thunderation" which he uses often, speaks volumes.
Stresses that officers should at all times, among themselves, in their relation with each other, the public and the airmen, maintain the highest standard of discipline, personal appearance and code of ethics.
Getting things done with enthusiasm, his devotion to duty, and his integrity, are his outstanding characteristics.
A eulogy appearing under General Hetherington's picture in the 1933 Howitzer - The U.S. Military Academy's yearbook - when he was a cadet states: "There are many favorable things we can say about Tex. He possesses an indomitable and unapparent optimism. Also, no matter how much work falls his share, it is done well with very little effort. When the outlook is least promising, we find Tex is not only unconcerned, but has a solution for the difficulty." This same evaluation applies today.