Retired Nov. 2, 1969.
Major General B. Putnam is the commander of Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force and also is National Commander of Civil Air: Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.
General Putnam was born in Fort Smith, Ark., in 1916. He was in his third year of prelaw school at Oklahoma State College, Stillwater, Okla., when he began his military career in 1937 by entering flying training in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He received his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in June 1938. He then was assigned as engineering officer and adjutant of the 20th Fighter-Bomber Group at Barksdale Field, Fla. In 1939 he became operations officer of the 35th Fighter-Bomber Group at Moffett Field Calif.
Late in 1940, following appointment in the Regular Army, he left for the Philippine Islands where he commanded Headquarters Squadron of the 24th Pursuit Group. He was transferred to the southernmost Philippine Island, Mindanao, and commanded the last fighter squadron in the Philippines at Maramog until two weeks after Corregidor fell. In the nine months which followed the attack on Pearl Harbor, he flew more than 200 combat missions, in P-39 and P-40 aircraft, and earned the sobriquet, "The One Man Air Force of Bataan." He next was assigned to the 35th Fighter Group, Port Moresby, New Guinea.
In 1942 he was transferred to Orlando, Fla., where he commanded a wing at the Army Air Corps School of Applied Tactics. In August 1945 General Putnam was assigned to Yale University for graduate work in Asiatic Studies; and in January 1946 he was assigned as the civil censorship officer, Headquarters Supreme Allied Command, Tokyo, Japan, under General MacArthur. He served in this position for two years and was responsible for the control of communications media in Japan and Korea.
In June 1949 he graduated from the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He next went to Washington, D.C., and was assigned to the Directorate of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and in 1950 was assigned to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Putnam went to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in late 1952, as deputy chief of staff for operations of the Air Proving Ground Command and in January 1954 became commander of the Air Force Operational Test Center there. In June 1956 he graduated from the National War College, Washington, D.C.
He went to Germany to command the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, the first wing in Europe to be equipped with supersonic aircraft. In addition, he was the U.S. military representative for Luxembourg.
In July 1960 General Putnam returned to Washington, D.C., and was assigned Deputy Director of Personnel Planning, Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In July 1962 he went to South Vietnam where he served until December as assistant chief of staff for Planning with the Military Assistance Command.
Upon return to the United States, he was assigned to Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va., where he held positions as deputy for personnel and then deputy for plans. In August 1965 he became commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
In November 1966 General Putnam assumed duties as commander, Southern North American Air Defense Command/Continental Air Defense Command Region and the Fourteenth Air Force with headquarters at Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. He retired effective Sept. 1, 1968, and was voluntarily ordered to active duty, effective November 1968, to serve as commander, Civil Air Patrol U.S. Air Force. He also is national commander of Civil Air Patrol.
He has flown many of the U.S Air Force aircraft starting with the Curtiss P-6 and frequently has flown test missions in the F-4C now being used in Vietnam.
He holds a bachelor of science degree in military science from the University of Maryland, and a master's degree in political science from The George Washington University.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, American Defense Service Medal with service star, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), National Defense Service Medal with service star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with six oak leaf clusters, Philippine Defense Service Ribbon, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon