Retired June 30, 1951. Died Aug. 17, 1980.
William Ludlow Ritchie was born at Helena, Ark., in 1902. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and was commissioned a second lieutenant of field artillery June 12, 1925.
His first assignment was with the 12th Field Artillery at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he served as battery officer, reconnaissance officer, and assistant executive. In December 1926, he was transferred to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, for duty with the Eighth Field Artillery. He later served at that station as train, motor and stable officer of the 11th Ammunition Train, and also completed a course at the school for bakers and cooks.
In July 1929, he returned to the United States to attend Air Corps Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas, and the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas. In July 1930, after completion of those courses, he was transferred to the Air Corps and assigned to the 16th Observation Squadron at Fort Sill, Okla. After serving at that station as flight operations and communications officer and adjutant of the Air Corps Troops, he was transferred, in September 1932, to Chanute Field, Ill. Following completion of the communications course at the Air Corps Technical School, he was assigned to duty with the Civilian Conservation Corps at Camp Custer, Mich., in July 1933. During the next year he also served as camp commander of the 614th Company of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Camp Starved Rock, Utica, Ill., and as section communications officer of the Eastern Zone of the Army Air Corps Mail Operations at Cleveland, Ohio.
In May 1934, he was ordered to Scott Field, Ill., where he spent a year as squadron and post communications officer, recruiting, publicity and operations officer, and group adjutant of the 15th Observation Squadron. In July 1935, he was made aide and pilot to the assistant secretary of war. During this period he was also a military aide at the White House.
He entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., in September 1938, and a year later was enrolled at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In February 1940, he was assigned to the Fourth Corps Provisional Observation Group at Natchitoches, La. In June of that year he was transferred to Langley Field, Va., as group S-1 and S-4 of the 25th Bombardment Group and squadron commander of the Second Bombardment Group.
In July 1941, he moved to Bolling Field, D.C., as assistant G-3 (operations) of the Air Force Combat Command, and the following March was assigned to the War Department General Staff at Washington, D.C., as a member, acting chief, and later chief of the Southwest Pacific Section Theater Group, Operations Division.
In November 1944 he went to Moscow, Russia as a member of the U.S.S.R.-U.S. Military Mission planning staff. Returning to the United States a year later, he was assigned temporary duty at Air Force headquarters as a member of the Joint U.S.-Russian trusteeship. In April 1946, he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of the Air Staff at Air Force headquarters. The following month he was relieved from this duty and assigned to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, and in October of that year was appointed chief of the War Plans Division of that office.
On Oct. 10, 1947, after U.S. Air Force headquarters was established, he was named chief of the Plans Division in the Office of the Director of Plans and Operations.
He was attached to the Office of the Air Attache in London, England, in December 1948, for duty with the commander in chief of the Naval Forces in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.
He returned to the United States in October 1949 to become a patient at Walter Reed General Hospital, Washington, D.C. The following April he was transferred as a patient to Fitzsimmons General, Denver, Colo.
General Ritchie has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Air Medal. He is rated a command pilot, combat observer and technical observer.