Retired Oct. 31, 1951. Died Feb. 9, 1993.
Elwood Quesada was a member of the famous Question Mark endurance crew of 1929. In the first week of January, Second Lieutenant Quesada flew as a crew member with Major Carl Spaatz, Captain Ira Eaker, and others in the Question Mark plane which set a sustained inflight refueling record of 151 hours - more than six days in the air over Los Angeles. The trimotor Fokker with Wright engines flew 11,000 miles and was refueled 43 times; nine refuelings were at night.
Elwood Richard Quesada was born in 1904 in Washington, D.C. Elwood "Pete" Quesada attended the Wyoming Seminary in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University. Quesada enlisted in September 1924 as a flying cadet and received his wings and commission in the Air Reserve one year later. He was inactive for one and a half years but in September 1927 went on duty as an engineering officer at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., where he served until June 1928. He became aide to Major General James Fechet, then chief of the Air Corps.
Quesada went to Cuba as assistant military attache from October 1930 until April 1932. He returned to Bolling Field and was promoted to first lieutenant in November. Lieutenant Quesada became aide to F. Trubee Davison who was assistant secretary of war for air. Lieutenant Quesada flew Davison and explorer Martin Johnson all over Africa on a mission to collect animals for the New York Museum of Natural History in the summer of 1933.
Quesada was chief pilot on the New York-Cleveland route when the Army men flew the airmail in 1934. One year later he became commanding officer of Headquarters at Langley Field, Va. He was promoted to captain in April 1935. Quesada served as aide to General Hugh Johnson, administrator of the NRA, and then Secretary of War Dern. Quesada completed the Command and General School course at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in June 1937 and went to Mitchel Field, N.Y., as flight commanding officer of the 1st Bomb Squadron.
His tour ended in June 1938 when he went to Argentina for two and a half years as technical advisor to Argentina's air force. He was assigned to intelligence in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps in October 1940 with promotion to major in February 1941. Quesada returned to Mitchel Field in July 1941 as commanding officer of the 33d Pursuit Group. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1942 and in July took command of the Philadelphia Region of the 1st Fighter Command. Quesada became brigadier general in December 1942 and commanding general of the 1st Air Defense Wing at Mitchel Field. He took this wing in early 1943 to Africa where he also commanded the 12th Fighter Command and was deputy commanding general of the Northwest African Coastal Air Force. He participated in many operational flights during the Tunisian, Sicilian, Corsican and Italian campaigns, and remained head of the 12th until the landings in Italy were secured.
Going to England in November 1943 as commanding general of the 9th Fighter Command, Quesada established advanced Headquarters on the Normandy beachhead on D-Day plus one, and directed his planes in aerial cover and air support for the Allied invasion of the continent.
Quesada became commanding general of the 9th Command and the 9th Tactical Air Command in Europe in November 1943. In April 1944 he became a major general. Quesada returned to the United States in June 1945 as assistant chief of air staff for intelligence at Headquarters Army Air Forces. General Quesada went to Tampa, Fla., as commanding general of the Third Air Force on March 1, 1946. This group soon became Tactical Air Command. As head of TAC he was promoted to lieutenant general in October 1947 and in November 1948 became special assistant for reserve forces at Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
General Quesada headed the Joint Technical Planning Committee for the Joint Chiefs in September 1949. He was designated commander of Joint Task Force-3 in that office in November 1949. Quesada retired Oct. 31, 1951. He was director of the Federal Aviation Agency from 1958-1961. Quesada has held executive positions with Olin Industries, Lockheed Aircraft, Topp Industries, and American Airlines.
General Elwood Quesada's medals and awards include Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart; Air Medal with two silver stars; American Defense Service Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and seven bronze battle stars; World War II Victory Medal; British order of Bath (Degree of Companion); Commander of British Empire; French Legion of Honor; French Croix de Guerre with Palm; Luxembourg Croix de Guerre; Order of Adolphe of Nassau; Polish Pilot Badge; Conmandeur de l'Ordre de la Couronne with Palm; Croix d'Officier de l'Order de la Couronne with Palm.