Retired Jan. 31, 1967. Died March 5, 1987.
General Hunter Harris is commander in chief of Pacific Air Forces, which has the responsibility, in conjunction with U.S. allies, for maintaining control of the air over the Western Pacific-Far East. It is the air component of the unified Pacific Command. Responsibility for air defense of the land areas of the Pacific Command is assigned to CINCPACAF and carried out through his numbered Air Force and division commanders. PACAF also assists in the training of friendly air forces, including the Vietnamese, in offensive and defensive air tactics and techniques.
General Harris was born in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1909. He attended the Virginia Military Institute, the University of Georgia, and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy as a second lieutenant of Infantry June 10, 1932 and was detailed to the Army Air Corps for pilot flight training at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas. He became a rated pilot in October 1933 and was assigned to the Army Air Corps Feb. 16, 1934, and was stationed at March Field, Calif., where he held various group and squadron positions.
In March 1937, General Harris went to Nichols Field, the Philippines, for duty with the 28th Bomb Squadron, and later served at Clark Field. In March 1940 he was assigned to Bolling Field, D.C. and in December 1941 became assistant operations officer with the Air Force Combat Command Headquarters at Bolling Field.
General Harris was assigned to the War Department General Staff in March 1942 and in October assumed command of a B-17 Provisional Group and later became commander of the 447th Bomb Group. In the fall of 1943 he took the 447th Group to England. General Harris assumed command of the 13th Combat Bomb Wing of the Eighth Air Force in September 1944, and then was assigned as deputy chief of staff for operations of the Third Bomber Division of the Eighth Air Force in the European Theater in December 1944. During this service in Europe, he flew 25 combat missions in B-17s totaling 200 hours, followed by a few P-51 missions.
After returning to the United States in June 1945, he was assigned as deputy chief, Military Personnel Division, in charge of officer personnel, Headquarters Army Air Force, Washington, D.C. In August 1947, he entered the Air War College at Maxwell Field, Ala., graduating in June 1948. His next assignment was as Air Force deputy commander, Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, Sandia Base, N.M. General Harris assumed command of the 509th Bomb Wing, Eighth Air Force, at Walker Air Force Base, N.M., in January 1950 and was appointed commanding general, 47th Air Division at Walker in January 1951. His next assignment in February 1952 was as chief of the War Plans Division, Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. In November 1953, he was designated deputy director of plans at Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Air Force member of the Joint Strategic Plans Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Harris became deputy for operations in May 1955, at Headquarters Far East Air Forces and was later assigned to the staff of the commander in chief Pacific, as deputy chief of staff for plans and operations. In November 1958 he became deputy commander, Eighth Air Force, Strategic Air Command, Westover Air Force Base, Mass., and in October 1961 he became commander.
On Oct. 1, 1962, General Harris became vice commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and Aug. 1, 1964 assumed his present assignment as commander of the Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
General Harris' awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters; Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster; Purple Heart; and the Distinguished Unit Citation; also the French Croix de Guerre with Palm; British Distinguished Flying Cross; Thai Order of the Cloud and Banner; Chinese Order of the Cloud & Banner; and the Korean Order of Military Merit Taeguk. He is a rated command pilot and technical observer.