Retired Aug. 1, 1966. Died Sep. 18, 1987.
Paul Theodore Preuss was born in Chicago, Ill., in 1916. He spent his boyhood in Seymour, Ind., and graduated from the Shields High School in that city in 1934. In the same year he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy from the 9th Congressional District of Indiana. He graduated in 1938, ranking eighth in a class of 302, and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.
First active duty assignment for Lieutenant Preuss was as a student officer at the Army Air Corps Primary Flying School, Randolph Field, Texas. He completed his advanced training at nearby Kelly Field and was awarded his pilot's wings in August 1939, concurrently transferring to the Air Corps. He is now rated a command pilot with 6,000 hours flying time in a variety of aircraft including jets.
For a year following his graduation from Kelly Field, Lieutenant Preuss was retained at that base as a flight instructor, reporting to Maxwell Field, Ala., in November 1940 as training group operations officer and training squadron commander. During the early period of World War II, he was assigned a number of key positions within the Southeast Training Center. In 1943 as a lieutenant colonel he was A-3 of the 46th Bomb Wing, Ardmore, Okla. In Ardmore, under Brigadier General Frank Armstrong, the B-17 replacement bomber crews were trained for the U.S. air campaign in Europe. By March of 1944 he was chief of staff of the 17th Bomb Operations Training Wing at Grand Island, Neb. This wing supervised the B-29 training program.
Promoted to colonel in October 1944, he received orders for overseas duty and in November was in Calcutta India, as chief of plans, Eastern Air Command, Southeast Asia Command. It was for his accomplishments in this position that Colonel Preuss received his first Legion of Merit. The citation states in part: "Colonel Preuss was responsible for the overall planning of the operations of both U.S. Army Air Forces and Royal Air Force units of Eastern Air Command, which resulted in the defeat of the Japanese Air Force in Burma, and materially contributed to the success of the British 14th Army which was wholly supplied by air. Colonel Preuss conceived a ground force plan of operations for retaking Southern Burma, which was instrumental in the recapture of Rangoon."
From May 1945 to February 1946, Colonel Preuss was chief of plans, Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces, in the China Theater. For this work he was awarded the first oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit. The citation reads: "Colonel Preuss rendered invaluable assistance in the preparation of joint operational plans for the U.S. Army Air Forces and the Chinese Air Forces." For his services in India and China Colonel Preuss received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Chinese Special Breast Order of Yun Hui."
Returning from overseas, the colonel was assigned to the Strategic Plans Section, War Department General Staff, where he remained until May 1947. From then until February 1950 he served in the Division of Military Application of the Atomic Energy Commission also acting as deputy test director, Joint Task Force 7, Eniwetok Marshall Islands, during operation Sandstone. As J-3 of Joint Task Force 3 (Operation Greenhouse) from February 1950 until August 1951, he was awarded the second oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit.
Upon graduation from the National War College, Washington, D.C., in June 1952, Colonel Preuss was assigned as director, Weapons Effects Tests, Field Command, Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, N.M. In October 1954 he became director of operations for Field Command, a position he held until June 1955 when he was appointed deputy commander, Field Command, AFSWP, and commander, 1090th U.S. Air Force Special Reporting Wing, concurrent duties. He was promoted to brigadier general in October 1956 and remained at Sandia until August 1958. For his service at Sandia he was awarded the third oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit.
During the period September 1958 to August 1959 General Preuss served at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii as commander, Pacific Air Forces Base Command and commander, Hawaiian Air Defense Division. He was reassigned to Washington in September 1959 as deputy director of Research and Development, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
On April 1, 1960, General Preuss was assigned duty with the Federal Aviation Agency as assistant administrator for plans. On June 12, 1961 was assigned as military adviser to the administrator. In this capacity he was responsible to the administrator for proper exchange of information with regard to programs, policies and requirements of the Department of Defense as related to the responsibilities of the administrator.
In May 1962, General Preuss was assigned as chief, Command Control Defense Systems Office, at L.G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Mass. This office represents Air Defense Command at the Electronic Systems Division (Air Force Systems Command) in connection with the development of command and control systems for the Air Defense Command. While on this assignment, General Preuss received his second star Sept. 1, 1962.
Major General Preuss was assigned to Headquarters Air Defense Command as deputy chief of staff/plans July 8, 1963.