Retired Sep. 30, 1971. Died June 18, 1997.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Donald L. Harlow was adviser to Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans Jr. and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. John D. Ryan on matters concerning welfare, effective utilization and progress of the enlisted members of the Air Force. He was the second chief master sergeant appointed to this ultimate noncommissioned officer position.
The chief was born in Waterville, Maine, on Sept. 22, 1920. He graduated from Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass., in 1942, and he attended California College of Commerce, Long Beach, Calif., during 1946 to 1948. He was awarded a bachelor of science degree in business administration by the college in 1956, when he completed requirements while assigned to the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Southern Methodist University.
Chief Harlow entered military service in August 1942 during World War II and was assigned to the Army Air Corps. He attended Armament School and upon completion was an instructor in the Aircraft Armament Ground School. He transferred to the personnel career field in 1945 and advanced to the grade of staff sergeant prior to his discharge from active duty in February 1946. He then became a member of the Air Force Reserve.
In August 1950 during the Korean War, Chief Harlow was recalled to active duty and assigned as the personnel chief clerk, 5th and 9th Maintenance Squadrons, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. He has held various positions in the personnel career field, increasing in responsibility. He was promoted to chief master sergeant in April 1963 after a total of 16 years active duty. He was the personnel sergeant major for Headquarters U.S. European Command and the sergeant major for the executive services division, Office of the Vice Chief of Staff. In 1969 he became the chief master sergeant of the Air Force.
From 1971 through 1981 Chief Harlow was the deputy for legislation for the Air Force Sergeants Association. He was primary spokesperson and legislative representative for the 146,000 member organization and its auxiliary. On May 20, 1980 he was inducted into the Military Order of the Sword by the enlisted men and women of the Tactical Air Command. He is the only enlisted person to receive this high honor. In 1982 Chief Harlow was named executive director of the Air Force Sergeants Association. While holding this position he continued to be the association's primary spokesperson on legislative matters.
1942 Graduate, Lawrence Academy, Gorton, Mass.
1942 Graduate, Armament School, Buckley Field, Colo.
1956 Bachelor of science degree in business administration, California College of Commerce, Long Beach
1960 Distinguished graduate, Strategic Air Command Noncommissioned Officer Academy
1. August 1942 - October 1942, trainee, Air Force Basic Military Training, Atlantic City, N.J.
2. October 1942 - January 1943, student, Armament School, Buckley Field, Colo.
3. June 1943 - September 1944, instructor, Aircraft Armament Ground School, Eagle Pass, Texas
4. September 1944 - September 1945, instructor, Aircraft Armament Ground School, Matagorda Island, Texas
5. September 1945 - February 1946, noncommissioned officer in charge, personnel processing, Foster Field, Texas
6. February 1946 - August 1950, Reserve status (inactive)
7. August 1950 - July 1951, recalled to active duty; prsonnel chief clerk, 5th and 9th Maintenance squadrons, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. (temporary duty at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., for special assignment to assist in formation of 5th Air Division)
8. July 1951 - July 1954, personnel sergeant major, 5th Air Division; custodian, NCO Club; noncommissioned officer in charge, special services; and steward, Officers Club, Rabat, Morocco
9. July 1954 - May 1955, personnel sergeant major, Air Force ROTC Detachment 815, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas; noncommissioned officer in charge, cadet training and AFROTC Summer Encampment, Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas.
10. May 1955 - August 1958, detachment sergeant major, 3635th Survival Training Wing, Stead Air Force Base, Nev.
11. August 1958 - April 1963, directorate of personnel, 317th Combat Support Group, Pease Air Force Base, N.H. (temporary duty as student, SAC NCO Academy)
12. April 1963 - July 1965, personnel sergeant major, Air Force Element, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Camp des Loges, St. Germain, France
13. July 1965 - July 1969, sergeant major, executive services division, Office of the Vice Chief of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
14. August 1969 - September 1971, chief master sergeant of the Air Force, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Good Conduct Medal with silver clasp and loop
Outstanding Airman of the Year
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with five oak leaf clusters
Air Force NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon
Strategic Air Command NCO Academy -- Student Commander Trophy, Gold Key for Academic Achievement, and The Drill and Ceremonies Military Achievement Award
Headquarters Command Outstanding Airman of the Year for 1967
PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Member, USAF Retiree Council
Member, Air Force Association
Chairman, Richard D. Kisling Scholarship Fund Committee
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Aug 1, 1969