Retired July 1, 1963. Died Oct. 5, 1981.
John Martin Breit was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1910. He graduated from Brackenridge High School there in 1927 where he was cadet commander of the high school Cadet Corps. Enlisting in the Texas National Guard in 1928, he was made a 1st Sergeant and entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1929 on a National Guard appointment. He graduated in 1933 as a second lieutenant of Infantry.
Second Lieutenant Breit's first assignment was as company commander in the 34th Infantry at Fort Meade, Md. In 1935 he was transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he commanded a company in the 9th Infantry. The next year he was given the task of supervising the construction of Camp Stephen F. Austin on the Texas Fair Grounds at Dallas in conjunction with the Texas Centennial and upon completion of the construction became adjutant of the composite battalion of Army, Navy and Marine show troops stationed there for the Centennial. While there he was ordered to the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., as a student.
Graduating from Benning in 1937, Lieutenant Breit was assigned to the 17th Infantry at Fort Crook, Neb., which is now Offutt Air Force Base. He commanded a company there until 1939 when he was ordered to Pettit Barracks, Zamboanga, Philippine Islands. There he commanded a company of Philippine Scout soldiers of the 45th Infantry. Transferring a year later to Fort McKinley near Manila, he commanded another scout company and was commended by General MacArthur and General Basilio Valdes, chief of staff, Philippine Army, for outstanding performance while on temporary additional duty with the Philippine Army in conjunction with its mobilization training program. Ordered home in the latter part of 1941, Captain Breit became a battalion executive officer in the 17th Infantry at Fort Ord, Calif., Dec.5, 1941. Shortly thereafter Major Breit became regimental operations officer.
He was transferred to Camp White, Oregon, in 1942 as a battalion commander, 362d Infantry. The next year Lieutenant Colonel Breit became training staff officer, Headquarters Army Ground Forces, Washington, D.C. In this position he was detailed as Army Ground Forces observer for four months for the southern France invasion. He participated in the landings at St. Tropez and remained with the operation until joined with the Normandy forces in front of the Vosges Mountains. For this he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the citation stating, in part, that he "exercised outstanding ability, imagination, initiative and resourcefulness in contributing immeasurably to the training mission ..." of Army Ground Forces.
Shortly after promotion to colonel in 1944, he assumed command of the 135th Infantry in Italy, fought with it until the end of the war, and earned the Bronze Star for "inspired leadership and ability ... directing attacking elements although in great danger of attracting hostile fire ... contacting the 75th German Corps and helping bring about the surrender of 40,000 men comprising this group." He was also awarded the Merito diGuerro by the Italian Government and the Combat Infantry Badge.
Ordered home in late 1945, Colonel Breit was again assigned to Army Ground Forces Headquarters in G-3. Upon leaving to become a student at the Air War College in July 1946, he was commended for "outstanding initiative, sound professional knowledge and clear judgment." After graduation from the Air War College in 1947, he was assigned to Alaska and became director of plans for the Alaskan Air Command. Later the same year he was transferred to the U.S. Air Force.
Colonel Breit returned to Washington in 1949 where he was assigned to the Headquarters U.S. Air Force staff in the War Plans Division; in 1950 detailed as a student in the National War College; in 1951 assigned to the Joint Strategic Plans Group of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; in 1953 assigned as deputy air provost marshal, U.S. Air Force, where he was promoted to brigadier general in October 1954.
During the 1955-56 period he was Director J-2 (intelligence) for Exercise "Sage Brush" and in August 1956 became deputy director of the Joint Construction Agency in Paris, France. In August 1957 he became deputy director for plans in Headquarters U.S. European Command upon the inactivation of the construction agency.
In January 1959 he became director of special investigations, Office of The Inspector General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; and on Aug. 1, 1960, deputy inspector general for security with additional duty as director of special investigations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He was promoted to major general on July 1, 1961. On June 11, 1962 he was relieved from additional duty as director of special investigations. On Jan. 7, 1963 he was assigned as deputy, The Inspector General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.