Retired Dec. 31, 1960. Died Sep. 29, 1993.
Herbert Leonard Grills was born about five miles from Newbern, Tenn., in 1905. He graduated from high school in Trimble, Tenn., in 1921 and from Memphis State University in 1926. He entered the Army Air Corps Primary Flying School at March Field, Calif., in October 1927 and graduated from the Basic Flying School at March Field in October 1928. He completed the course of advanced flying training at Kelly Field, Texas, in February 1929.
His first duty assignment after being commissioned as a second lieutenant, Air Reserve, was with the Third Attack Group at Fort Crockett in Galveston, Texas. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, Regular Army, on May 2, 1929. He served on temporary duty at the reserve summer camps at Dallas, Texas, for two months in 1929 and again in 1930.
In July 1931 Lieutenant Grills was assigned to Brooks Field, Texas, to attend the flying instructors' course. In October 1931 he moved to Randolph Field, Texas, where he served as a primary and basic flying instructor until June 30, 1935. He was then transferred to Chanute Field, Ill., where he completed a course of training in Airplane Maintenance and Armament.
In July 1936 Lieutenant Grills rejoined the Third Attack Group at Barksdale Field, La., and served as squadron operations there for 2 1/2 years. He was then reassigned to Hawaii for two years, where he performed various duties at squadron, group and base level. He returned to the Zone of Interior in March 1941, and he served as station engineering officer at Stockton Field, Calif., for seven months.
In October 1941 Captain Grills was assigned to duty as base executive officer at Williams Field, Ariz. He commanded Williams Field from March 1, 1943 to May 15, 1945. While at Williams he progressed to the grade of colonel.
He served as commander of Air Service Groups in the Philippines and Okinawa, and in October 1945 he assumed command of the 309th Bomb Wing on Hokkaido, Japan. When this organization was inactivated in February 1946, he served as commander of the 49th Fighter Group and Chitose Air Base until assigned to duty as air inspector of the Fifth Air Force at Nagoya, Japan, in August 1946.
He attended the first class of the Armed Forces Staff College in 1947 and then served as deputy commander, Keesler Field, for three months. In October 1947 he went to the Pentagon as assistant to the commander, Air Forces, Joint Task Force Seven, and in this capacity he was responsible for the overall planning and direction of the air operations involved in the conduct of the atomic tests at Eniwetok Atoll in the spring and summer of 1948. Returning to the United States in June 1948, he served a year as director of plans and operations in the Continental U.S. Defense Planning Group.
He entered the National War College in August 1949 and graduated the following year. He became chief of the Officer Assignment Division in the Directorate of Military Personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in July 1950. In December 1951 he was reassigned to Brookley Air Force Base, where he served for nine months as deputy commander, Mobile Air Materiel Area.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general in October 1952 when he was assigned to duty in Tokyo as deputy for personnel, Headquarters Far East Air Forces. In January 1955 he went to Guam as commander, Headquarters Seventh Air Force (Advanced), and returned to the United States in August 1955 to assume command of Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas. He was promoted to the grade of major general in October 1956, and on Nov. 1 of that year he assumed command of Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In September 1958, he went to Italy to become deputy commander, Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force, an element of the Southern Europe NATO structure.
Has a modest collection of sporting firearms; likes hunting, fishing and skeet-shooting; is an "amateur cook", preferring to experiment with foreign recipes; reads omnivorously and likes to discuss matters which grow out of the inter-action of human nature.
Has always made special efforts to promote good community relations with the civilian elements adjacent to the installations he has commanded.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Various World War II and Korean War Theater, service and campaign decorations
Special Badge, Cloud Banner (Chinese)
Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
OPINIONS, TASTES AND EVALUATIONS
Prefers Chinese and Italian cooking; wears light blue, gray and brown civilian dress.
Likes historical novels, political commentary, and philosophical works; a lover of semi-classical music and some operatic selections; has served four foreign tours in Pacific areas and is now on duty in Italy.
One of his favorite statements is: "Success is a habit which can be acquired by the exercise of a moderate amount of intelligence, a great deal of hard work, and an unswerving sincerity of purpose." Another is: "In the control and direction of the lives, and destinies of people, no man has any right to be wrong in his judgement.
With him the military service is almost a religion. He believes that the military service is potentially the finest system of human relationship that has ever been devised. In dealing with his subordinates he insists on deliberate judgements and the exercise of a strong sense of personal responsibility.
Many of his subordinates have stated that his personal influence on their lives has been stronger than that of any other military superior. He enjoys the satisfaction of knowing that he has been able to create for his subordinates an atmosphere in which they like to live and work.