Retired. Died May 4, 1989.
Emery Scott Wetzel was born in Billings, Mont., in 1907 and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy on June 13, 1929 - at the start of the depression.
The future was uncertain for his class. Four years earlier, the master of the sword, in an initial pep talk to the plebe class, had predicted that some of the class might just possibly get to be colonels before retirement. He went on to say that despite the slowness of promotion and inadequate pay, a military career was the road to high adventure.
And for Emery Scott Wetzel his military career continues to be just that - a great adventure, an adventure that started with the news he received at Billings High School of his appointment to the nation's military school on the banks of the Hudson, his graduation and commission as a second lieutenant of Field Artillery, marriage to his academy sweetheart, flying schools and pilot wings, adjutant for General "Hap" Arnold (then a lieutenant colonel), World War II service in Washington, Europe, Guam, Okinawa and Japan, number two man in Air Force Personnel, "boss" of a peacetime-wartime overwater fleet of 200 military transport aircraft, two West Point sons, and today a senior major general as vice commander and chief of staff, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces.
Lieutenant "Pinky" (a nickname given him at the academy because of his pink cheeks) Wetzel's first operational assignment was as assistant operations and statistical officer in the 11th Bombardment Squadron, Rockwell Air Force Base, Calif.
In 1931 he saw service at March Field with the Seventh Bombardment Group and later became adjutant of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the March Field District under Lieutenant Colonel H.H. Arnold.
Young Captain Wetzel joined the 72d Bombardment Squadron in 1935 at Luke Field, Hawaii. Before leaving Hawaii in 1937 to become operations and intelligence officer and flight commander of the First Bombardment Squadron at Mitchell Field, N.Y., Captain Wetzel became flight commander of the 50th Observation Squadron at Luke.
After graduating from the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., in 1940, Captain Wetzel instructed Air Corps Reserve units at Second Military Area Headquarters, Pittsburgh, Pa.
In 1941, just nine months before Pearl Harbor, Major Wetzel was assigned to duty in the nation's capitol in the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps. Here he served successively as assistant chief of the Officer Section and executive officer for the Enlisted Section, Military Personnel Division. A year later, Colonel Wetzel, command pilot, became chief of the division.
In early 1945 Brigadier General Wetzel became chief of the War Department General Staff's Personnel Group. It was during this period that he received the Legion of Merit for his outstanding services in the advice, selection and assignment of qualified key personnel, "thus contributing to the Allied success in the global conflict."
Six months later the general arrived on Guam as assistant chief of staff for Personnel, U.S. Army Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific Theater. Here he added an oak leaf cluster to his Legion of Merit, again for outstanding service in contributing to the defeat of Japan. In addition, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his participation in the air offensive against Japan.
General Wetzel was at dinner on Okinawa with Lieutenant General "Jimmy" Doolittle when news of Japan's surrender was announced.
With the inactivation in December 1945 of this command, General Wetzel assumed the same position with Pacific Air Command, U.S. Army with headquarters in Tokyo. When this command was redesignated the Far East Air Forces, he continued in the same capacity.
In July l948 he was assigned to 15th Air Force as chief of staff at Colorado Springs, Colo. A year later he moved with the headquarters to March Air Force Base, Calif. In the spring of 1950 he became deputy commander. In December 1950 he was promoted to major general.
Early the following year, General Wetzel returned to the Pentagon as the "number two" Air Force personnel chief with his assignment as assistant deputy chief of staff for Personnel.
On his next assignment in May 1954 he continued to apply the good management philosophies he had acquired or developed which had produced successful results previously in his career. For example, he has often stated as a guideline for his staff, "Know what you're being paid for and do it!" And in today's increasingly complex operations, his "Let's keep it simple" is even more effective in cutting through a maze of facts, figures and plans in getting quickly to the best possible decision or action.
His next assignment was commander of the Military Air Transport Services' Atlantic Division - the equivalent of a numbered Air Force - then located at Westover Air Force Base, Mass. This command, which later moved to McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., operated more than 200 medium and heavy transport aircraft carrying passengers and cargo hourly around the clock to Europe, Great Britain, North Africa, South America and to the "top of the world", Thule Air Force Base, Greenland.
During General Wetzel's command, a total of 5,000 round trips to the frozen Arctic and 25,000 trips across the Atlantic were reached without a passenger fatality while transporting thousands of personnel and tons of cargo. This was a command which had a peacetime mission of maintaining and exercising a fleet in support of Strategic Air Command and other defense forces and government agencies while training for a wartime mission. For his service in this assignment, he received a second oak leaf cluster to his Legion of Merit.
As vice commander of the Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, General Wetzel was concerned with the operation of an Air Force major command whose tactical and defensive operations extend from Hawaii across the vast Pacific and as far West as Burma and includes the Fifth and 13th Air Forces with bases in Japan, Philippines, Okinawa, Formosa and South Korea.
On Sept. 1, 1959, the general became chief of staff, United Nations Command, Korea, with additional duty as chief of staff, U.S. Forces in Korea.