Retired Aug. 1, 1968. Died May 6, 1995.
Lieutenant General Leighton Ira Davis is commandant of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C.
General Davis was born in Sparta, Wis., in 1910. He graduated from high school in Dawson County, Mont., in 1927; entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1931, and graduated in 1935. He received his master of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1941 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree by New Mexico State University in 1961, and an honorary doctorate of space science by Brevard Engineering College, Melbourne, Fla., in 1965.
After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, he attended flying training at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas, and received his wings in 1936. His first tactical assignment was as an engineering officer, Sixth Pursuit Squadron, 18th Group, in Hawaii. In January 1939, he became an instructor in the Department of Mechanics at West Point. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for development of electronic pressure time and pressure-volume equipment used in instruction at the U.S. Military Academy.
From 1942 until July 1947 he was director of the Ground School at the academy; a project officer at the Armament Laboratory, Air Materiel Command at Wright Field, Ohio; then a technical executive and later chief of the Armament Lab.
In 1946, General Davis was award the oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit for his work on the design and development of the A-1 and A-4 series of gun-bomb-rocket sights for fighter aircraft.
In 1947, he received the Thurman H. Bane Award for 1946 from the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences for his work in developing fire control equipment.
Between July 1947 and August 1949, General Davis was assistant chief of the Engineering Plans Branch, chief of the Applied Research Section, and later chief, Office of Air Research at the Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Ohio. He then entered the Air War College, graduating in July 1950.
His next assignment was as deputy, and later commandant of the Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, until September 1951. He moved from Ohio to Baltimore, Md., where, between October 1951 and September 1954 he served successively as director of armament, as assistant for development and support research, and as director of development, ARDC.
General Davis then served as commander, Holloman Air Development Center (later redesignated the Air Force Missile Development Center) at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., from September 1954 to July 1958. Next came a year as deputy commander for research at Headquarters, Air Research and Development Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
In August 1959, he was named assistant deputy chief of staff for development at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C.; a job he held until June 1960 when he was named commander of the Air Force Missile Test Center at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. On May 20, 1963, the president of the United States awarded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Medal for Outstanding Leadership to General Davis for his part in planning and implementing the support of the Department of Defense to the Project MERCURY space flight missions.
In January 1964, he became commander of the National Range Division (Provisional) at Patrick Air Force Base, with the Air Force Systems Command and in May 1964 was named commander of the National Range Division, his present assignment at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. On May 8, 1964 he was given the additional duty of deputy commander for global range, AFSC, and on Sept. 8, 1964, also as an additional duty, he was appointed Department of Defense manager for manned space flight support operations.
General Davis is rated a command pilot. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster.