Died Feb. 1, 1972.
John W. Persons was born in Montgomery, Ala., in 1899. He attended Starke University School and Lanier High School in Montgomery from 1911 to 1914, graduated from the Gulf Coast Military Academy, Gulfport, Miss., in 1915, and attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute for two years. From March 1917 to January 1919 he served as a second lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. He then returned to Montgomery where he was a cotton broker and later manager of the Pan American Petroleum Corporation.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Reserve Oct. 21, l927 and assigned to active duty in July 1928, he received his regular commission as a second lieutenant of Air Corps on May 2, 1929. He entered the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, was rated a pilot June 21, 1930 and was assigned as operations officer with the 22nd Observation Squadron at Maxwell Field, Ala.
In February 1932 he joined the 66th Service Squadron at Nichols Field, Philippine Islands, and in July was transferred to the Third Pursuit Squadron at Clark Field, Philippine Islands, where he served until February 1935.
General Persons, in April 1935, was assigned to the 14th Bomb Squadron at Bolling Field, D.C., as engineering officer and in August 1936 was transferred to the Second Staff Squadron there with the same duty assignment. He entered the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., in September 1938, graduated in June 1939 and was named as a flying instructor at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field. In October 1939 he assumed command of the 54th Bomb Squadron at Maxwell Field. In 1941 he became chief of the Test Section at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in 1942 he became director of training at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Moody Field, Ga. He assumed command of Marianna Army Air Field, Fla., in May 1942 and in March 1944 was named commander of Tyndall Field, Fla.
In July 1945 General Persons was assigned as director of gunnery for the Far East Air Forces and in November 1945 assumed command of Atsugi Army Air Field in Japan, where he served until February 1946.
Appointed chief of the Flying Safety Service at Langley Field, Va., in March 1946, General Persons retained command when the organization was designated Flying Safety Division in June 1947. He became inspector general for the First Region, with station at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in December 1948 and in May l950 was transferred to the 1003rd Inspector General Unit at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. The following February he was named director of field inspection, with duty station at Kelly.
In October 1952 General Persons assumed command of the 39th Air Depot Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska. He became commander of the Alaska Air Force Depot the following April; and a month later was named deputy commander of the Alaskan Air Command. Transferred to Air Force headquarters, Washington, D.C., in July l953, General Persons was designated deputy director of Personnel Procurement and Training in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel.
In June 1954 General Persons was named commander of the 3510th Flying Training Wing (Medium Bomb) at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. The wing has been redesignated the 3510th Combat Crew Training Wing.
General Persons became Fourteenth Air Force Commander Aug. 1, 1957, and now supervises the training of 72,000 Air Reservists and Air National Guardsmen in 22 eastern states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
He has been awarded the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster and is rated a command pilot, combat observer and aircraft observer.
Hobbies, Sports and Diversions: His number one interest is flying and he is qualified in aircraft ranging from jets to helicopters, with a total of more than 9,900 flying hours. His interest in flying dates back to his first sight of a box-shaped Wright Brothers biplane at the Montgomery, Ala., County Fairgrounds. When his pressing duties permit, he personally joins in search efforts of the Fourteenth's Search and Rescue organization, flying his helicopter. He has an intense interest in hunting, particularly for deer and game birds. He has a collection of model aircraft, feeds squirrels and birds in the vicinity of his home, is an avid reader, golfs as frequently as possible for pleasure and relaxation, and is fond of dogs (he has a French poodle from England as a pet).
Civic and Religious Activities: Member of Episcopal Church. Belonged to numerous civic clubs in the vicinity of bases where he commanded, including the San Antonio Kiwanis Club.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon
World War II Victory Medal
Legion of Merit
Philippine Liberation Ribbon
Canadian Service Ribbon
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Philippine Independence Ribbon
Air Force Longevity Service Award
OPINIONS, TASTES AND EVALUATIONS
Preferences as to food, clothing, housing, etc.: Is a lover of fine foods, correctly prepared, both foreign and American dishes; prefers conservative dress in the darker colors of gray, blue and brown.
Tastes in reading, music, art, travel, climate, scenery, etc.: Reads extensively, including publications on current events, mysteries, westerns, historical novels, varied contemporary fiction, outdoor sports magazines and anything concerning airplanes and air power; likes good music, semi-classical, classical, and modern "sweet" music, fond of travelling; particularly likes geographical area of Alabama and Florida; a follower of boxing, he is interested in other sports, including baseball.
Points or qualities emphasized or demanded in dealing with others: Insists on loyalty, sincerity, frankness, accuracy and neatness, as well as punctuality; sincerely believes in physical fitness for himself and others.
Evaluations or comments by friends or associates: Known as exacting but fair commander.