Retired Aug. 1, 1966.
Born in Taylorsville, N.C., in 1912, Turner C. Rogers (T.C.) graduated from high school at Statesville, N.C. and attended Mars Hill College in North Carolina for one year. In July 1932 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant, Infantry on June 12, 1936.
The following fall, Lieutenant Rogers began flying training and graduated from primary and advanced flying schools at Randolph and Kelly fields in Texas. After securing his pilot's rating, he transferred to the 18th Pursuit Group in Hawaii.
Two years later, he was assigned to the 31st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field. In May 1941 Captain Rogers was assigned to the Air Defense Section of the Air Force Combat Command at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. In December 1941 he was promoted to major.
In March 1942 Lieutenant Colonel Rogers was named chief of the personnel section in the Directorate of Air Defense at Army Air Forces headquarters, and a year later became chief of the fighter and reconnaissance section. He was transferred to the IV Fighter Command at Oakland, Calf., as assistant operations officer, and in March 1944 was appointed chief of the Fighter Division at Headquarters Fourth Air Force He became a colonel on May 12, l944.
Colonel Rogers was appointed in January 1945 as captain of the Fighter Evaluation Team, Air Evaluation Board, in the Southwest Pacific. In May 1946 he was named a staff planning officer in the War Plans Division at Air Force headquarters. In August 1949 he entered the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from which he graduated in June 1950.
Colonel Rogers was then transferred to Korea as assistant deputy for operations of the Fifth Air Force. In February 1951 he assumed command of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing and flew 50 combat missions in F-51 Mustangs. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and one oak leaf cluster plus the Distinguished Flying Cross while in Korea. He became brigadier general on Oct. 9, 1951.
Returning to the United States in February 1952, he became deputy commander of the Crew Training Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. General Rogers assumed command of the Air Training Command's Crew Training Air Force Jet Fighter-Bomber training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., on Aug. 15, 1953. He also served as base commander of Luke during this time and was awarded the second cluster to his Legion of Merit when he departed in 1956.
General Rogers assumed command of the nation's Air Force ROTC program on Oct 1, 1956, and on Aug. 5, 1957, he became a major general. During this tour of duty, he was awarded the third oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit.
On July 31, 1959, General Rogers assumed command of the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Japan.
As his youngsters arrived and grew, he took an active interest in home photography; he has enjoyed gardening, fishing, swimming, and occasionally, golf.
While base commander at Luke Air Force Base, in 1955, won the Training Command Gunnery Competition and several trophies with highest individual score, flying an F-84G in special weapon gunnery, over the shoulder bombing, and other newly developed techniques; represented the Training Command at National Gunnery Meet.
Member of the Baptist Church; the Masonic Lodge; the National Sojourners; Chairman of the Rotary Club International Relations Committee and has furthered international relations by bringing together Rotarians and allied officers attending schools at Maxwell Air Force Base.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
WWII Victory Medal
Philippine Liberation Ribbon
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal
Air Medal with oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters
Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation
Korean Service Medal
Republic of Korea Unit Citation
Distinguished Flying Cross
UN Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Republic of Korea Military Merit Ulchi Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award with six oak leaf clusters
To point up the importance of recognizing and staying within personal limitations, General Rogers describes this account of his first combat mission in Korea in 1951 after he had assumed command of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing. He had not flown an F-51 (Mustang) since 1943, and after a hurried checkout was scheduled for two-ship armed reconnaissance of central North Korea.
"The engine was rough on take-off, but pride would not let the 'new wing commander' abort his first mission. All Korea was covered by an overcast, but we found a hole and deposited our napalm and rockets on enemy targets. Then my engine coughed, and I sought altitude for a bailout. I left my leader, climbed into the overcast and chugged to fifteen thousand feet to get on top where I suddenly lost direction. I called for a steer, and hours seemed to pass before I received a clear response.
"Finally, I sighted familiar territory, and my confidence returned. Why land at K-6, the location of the direction station, when I had a forward detachment at K-13? I headed for K-13 only to fly into a blinding snowstorm, but I still knew I could find K-13.
"Next I recognized the enemy held Han River below. I did a quick one-eighty, and now with my last tank reading zero, I prepared for the third time to leave the ship. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a runway on my left -- never has a piece of concrete looked so beautiful. The engine sputtered to a stop from fuel starvation just as I turned off the end of the runway.
OPINIONS, TASTES AND EVALUATIONS
Reflects his North Carolina youth with a preference for country ham, fried chicken, steak and biscuits, cornbread and black-eyed peas and buttermilk. Prefers sport clothes with a Western flair.
Chooses to read current news, historical novels, poetry and fiction. Likes most music, particularly popular music; inspired by fine paintings; doesn't care for surrealistic art. Has no yearning for far away places, and considers the amount of traveling required by the Air Force to be sufficient. He likes Arizona and the arid climate of the Southwest United States.
From World War II experiences recall reference to higher headquarters, "Illigitimus non carburundum!" which translated freely "Don't let the b____tds grind you down.!" "I've enjoyed life. It's too short at best -- get the most out of it."
"I've worked for people who insisted a thing be done 'their way'; I've worked for men who say 'it's your job, do it as best you can'; personally, I've always enjoyed the second sort of boss -- and I'd add just one thing: Don't expect perfection from anyone. We're all human." Doesn't subscribe blindly to "Charge of the Light Brigade" philosophy.
Getting out from under the stigma of a "good staff officer" and into command was the greatest professional difficulty he overcame.
"January 1941 was the date of my first command, a newly activated pursuit squadron of no other officers, forty airmen, and no aircraft. When both officers and machines arrived, I was transferred to staff work in Washington, D.C. Ten years of pushing papers preceded a fighter-wing command in Japan -- an assignment that was foiled by the commencement of the Korean War. I was almost resigned to my fate when General 'Pat' Partridge came to my rescue and broke the jinx by giving me the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing in Korea, which coincidentally had been my first organizational assignment out of flying school. This was a highlight of my career."
Visitors are always impressed that he looks younger than his years. He speaks slowly, simply, and he has developed the precise habit of looking directly at the person he is addressing, punctuating most of his comments with a grin. He is small boned, laughs often, draws freely on long, filter cigarettes, and strokes his left hand over his mouth in thought. He has straight, black hair with threads of silver running through it.
He comes in (speaking of a new assignment in particular) very quietly and unobtrusively -- and before you know it, he is in command of everything and has the admiration and respect of everyone in his command.
He has a highly developed sense of public relations. He is a fine officer. He gives his counsel and advice and never loses an opportunity to spread the gospel of the service that he represents. He is universally admired and respected.