Retired Nov. 1, 1967. Died Oct. 17, 1978.
James Edwin Roberts was born in Pettus, Texas, in 1909. He attended elementary and high schools in San Marcos, Texas, and graduated from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, with a bachelor of arts degree in 1931.
He entered the service Oct. 8, 1932, and graduated from flying school at Kelly Field, Texas, in October 1933. Upon his graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned first to March Field, and later to Hamilton Field, Calif. In October of 1935, returned to civilian life and was associated with the W.T. Roberts Company in Pettus, Texas, before re-entering the service in July 1937.
Following a short tactical assignment with the 3d Attack Group at Barksdale Field, La., in 1937, he was assigned to Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas, as a flight instructor. During his four and one-half years at Randolph, he went to flight commander, and through the various stages to stage commander.
In 1939, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the regular Army Air Force, and in 1942, assigned to the B-26 Marauder School at Del Rio, Texas, as director of training. Here he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
In 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Roberts was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as A-3 operations officer for the 6th Bomber Command, and in October 1944, was named commanding officer of the same command. In April 1945, he returned to the U.S. and attended the Senior Officer's Course in the school of Applied Tactics at Orlando, Fla. In June of the same year, Colonel Roberts was assigned to the 20th Air Force in the Marianas where he assumed the duties of commanding officer of the 39th Bomb Group, 314th Wing, stationed on Guam. There he received the Air Medal for missions against the Japanese mainland.
Returning from overseas in October 1945, he attended the first command class of the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Following completion of the course in May 1946, he was assigned to Mather Field, Calif., as assistant commandant. In November 1946, he returned to Randolph Field, Texas, as assistant commandant.
In January 1948, he was reassigned to Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, as training group commander, and in December 1948, assumed command of Goodfellow, where he remained until Aug. 1, 1950.
The colonel assumed command of Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Fla., in October 1950, and on June 24, 1951, he was assigned as the Air Training Command's project officer to rebuild Pinecastle Air Force Base. He assumed command of the base upon its activation Jan. 10, 1952. On Dec. 15, 1953, he was promoted to brigadier general (temporary), and on Dec. 30, 1953, he was assigned as wing commander at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He remained there until January 12, 1956, when he was appointed inspector general at Air Training Command headquarters.
The general became deputy commander of 12th Air Force in July 1957, with headquarters at Ramstein, Germany. He was the last officer assigned to the 12th Air Force when it was activated and moved to Waco, Texas. On April 15, 1958, he was assigned as deputy chief of staff, personnel, at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany. On May 15, 1960, he became deputy for personnel, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. On Jan. 30, 1962, he was promoted to major general with date of rank Aug. 9, 1957.
General Roberts assumed his present duties as commander, Air Proving Ground Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on July 1, 1962.