Retired July 31, 1963. Died Aug. 15, 1991.
William Tell Hefley was born in Cameron, Texas, in 1906, the son of a Texas attorney. Upon graduation from Yoe High School at Cameron in 1923, he entered Texas A&M for pre-engineering studies.
During his year there, he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, entering West Point as a cadet in 1924. Graduating in 1928 with a bachelor of science degree, he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers.
General Hefley's first assignment as a lieutenant was to the District Engineer Office in New Orleans, La., where he served as a student officer and was engaged in flood control work. In 1929 he began a two year assignment with the 8th Engineer Battalion, a mounted unit of the 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort McIntosh, Texas. As an engineer on horseback, Lieutenant Hefley performed every duty that could be given to a company grade officer.
In 1931 Lieutenant Hefley began pilot training at Brooks Field. He completed flight training at the flying schools at Randolph and Kelly fields in the open cockpit, fabric-surface aircraft of that day, winning his pilot's wings in June 1932 and transferring to the Air Corps. He is today rated as a command pilot.
Lieutenant Hefley's first assignment after graduation from flying school returned him to Brooks Field where he assumed the varied duties of a squadron officer and pilot with the 8th Observation Group. Promoted to captain in 1935, he was reassigned from Brooks Field to the Aircraft Maintenance and Armament School at Chanute Field for a ten-month course that introduced him to his career-long-work in these and allied fields.
The maintenance and armament course at Chanute was followed by a three-year assignment as a maintenance officer in the Air Corps Materiel Division at Wright Field. With this background in the theory and practice of maintenance, Captain Hefley advanced in 1939 to a series of assignments within the organization, that was the predecessor to the Air Materiel Command, gaining staff experience and an increasin1gly comprehensive knowledge of techniques and procedures. His first staff assignment was in the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps in Washington, D.C., during which he was promoted to major. Later as a colonel, he served until July 1942 as executive in the headquarters of the Air Service Command also in Washington. This was follo1wed by tours of duty as chief of staff of 3rd Air Service Area Command in Atlanta, Ga., during the second half of 1942 and the first few months of 1943, and as deputy chief of the Maintenance Division at the Air Service Command headquarters Patterson Field during the remainder of 1943 and until February 1944.
A new assignment as deputy commander of the VIII Air Force Service Command took Colonel Hefley to England in March 1944. During this wartime service, Colonel Hefley's ability and success in establishing procedures which sped the return of damaged aircraft to combat was recognized by awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Croix de Guerre with palm.
The war ended, Colonel Hefley returned to the United States in September 1945,and assumed the duties of deputy chief of the Maintenance Division at Headquarters Air Technical Service Command, Patterson Air Force Base. This service won him the Army Commendation Ribbon. The citation mentions his " ... unusual ability as an administrator ...," which enabled him " ... to obtain maximum production efficiency." A year later he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington D.C., completing the course there in July 1947.
Colonel Hefley then returned to maintenance engineering duties at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in the capacity of deputy chief of the Maintenance Division in Headquarters Air Materiel Command. In July 1948 he was assigned to Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area as director of maintenance and later became deputy commander.
Colonel Hefley was appointed to a particularly interesting and challenging assignment in April 1950, when he became chief of staff for Air Task Group 3.4, based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. This unit participated in the atomic exercises held at Eniwetok in the Marianas during 1951. Colonel Hefley's contribution to these tests was recognized by the award of the first oak leaf cluster to the Commendation Ribbon.
Promoted to brigadier general in July 1951, he returned to Headquarters Air Materiel Command in September of that year as assistant for plans, programs, and requirements, and in August 1952 he became assistant deputy commander.
In July 1953, General Hefley began a three-year assignment at Sacramento Air Materiel Area, McClellan Air Force Base. His first post was that of deputy commander. In June 1954 he became SMAMA commander and a few months later, in October, he was promoted to major general. General Hefley's many noteworthy accomplishments at SMAMA ranged over the entire field of maintenance and supply. As a commander who devoted special attention to management techniques, he was very successful in establishing at SMAMA the new management and accounting procedures which were at that time being introduced in the Air Materiel Command.
In July 1956 General Hefley left Sacramento for his assignment as commander, Air Materiel Force, European Area. General Hefley moved his headquarters from its original location at Wiesbaden, Germany, to Chateauroux France, May 15, 1958.
As the AMC commander's representative in Europe, General Hefley managed the conversion and transition of an expensive and cumbersome depot system into a streamlined and flexible system for supporting U.S. Air Force and allied units in the European-African-Middle East area. During his tour, three major depots and five minor depots were closed out, command personnel strength was reduced from 24,000 to less than 6,000 people, and operating costs were cut by $35 million a year.
In place of an expensive and relatively-inefficient overseas depot system, General Hefley instituted a decentralized and more flexible logistics structure. This system, which places overseas air combat units on direct supply support, from the U.S. and which handles their aircraft maintenance needs through European contractors was the result of a three-year long program to revitalize the obsolete logistics network which existed in the European-African-Middle East theater.
On Aug. 15, 1960, General Hefley was transferred to Headquarters Air Materiel Command, Dayton, Ohio, for a two and one-half month tour of temporary duty. While at AMC headquarters, he completed a special manpower resources study for the AMC commander.
He assumed duties as commander of the Warner Robins Air Materiel Area, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Nov. 1, 1960, and is presently serving in that position.
As commander of the Warner Robins Air Materiel Area; known as the Transport Aircraft Logistics Center of the Air Force, General Hefley is worldwide systems manager for this country's first-line transport aircraft. These include the C-124 Globemaster, C-130 and C-133 turboprop aircraft, and the new C-141 jet transport now being developed, as well as several World War II type transports which still play an important part in the Air Force mission.
General Hefley also has the managership for all Air Force airborne armaments - the electronic fire control and bomb-navigation systems used on first-line combat aircraft. Keeping in step with the ballistic missile age, WRAMA, under General Hefley's guidance, has the responsibility of providing specialized repair capability for guidance computers and gyroscopes for the Atlas and Titan missiles. A new workload assumed by General Hefley for WRAMA is the logistics management responsibility for airborne communications-electronics equipment.
WRAMA fills a continuing requirement for logistics support of Air Force combat forces stationed throughout the free world. Materials to keep vast air fleets aloft requires one of the largest and most complex industrial and supply organizations ever conceived. The entire responsibility of WRAMA under the command of General Hefley involves some half-million different items of Air Force material with an inventory value of two and one-half billion dollars.