Brett, George Howard, LTG

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Last Rank
Lieutenant General
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
AAF 1054-Pilot - Two-Engine
Last MOS Group
Aviation (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1920-1946, Army Air Corps
Service Years
1910 - 1946


Lieutenant General

Four Overseas Service Bars

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Brett, George Howard, LTG USA(Ret).
Contact Info
Home Town
Cleveland, Ohio
Last Address
Orlando, Florida

Date of Passing
Dec 02, 1963
Location of Interment
Palm Cemetery - Winter Park, Florida
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

US Army Retired (Pre-2007)

 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

US Army Air Force Lieutenant General. An early military aviator and controversial figure later in his military career, he served during World Wars I and II, and he commanded the US Army Air Forces in Australia during the initial stages of World War II. After completing high school, he was unable to obtain an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, and so he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, Virginia and graduated in 1909 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Philippine Scouts in March 1910. While serving in the Philippines, he transferred to the US Cavalry in August 1911 and joined the 2nd Cavalry. In 1912 he returned to the US and was first stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. The following year he moved to Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont (now deactivated). He then decided to become an aviator and after graduating from aviation school in 1916, he was assigned to the office of the Chief Signal Officer in Washington DC where he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in July 1916, and two months later he officially transferred to the Aviation Section of the US Signal Corps. In May 1917, following the US entry into World War I, he was promoted to the rank of captain and he was sent to the European Western Front in November 1917 but suffered a case of appendicitis, resulting in the loss of his flight status. After making a partial recovery, he served in France as senior materiel officer under the famed Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, attaining the temporary rank of major in June 1918. After briefly returned to the US to serve in Office of the Director of Military Aeronautics in Washington DC, he went to England in September 1918 to command the US Army Air Service Camp at Codford, Wiltshire, England. In December 1918 he returned to the US and was assigned to Kelly Field (now Kelly Air Reserve Base, a part of Joint Base San Antonio), Texas and commanded the Aviation General Supply Depot until February 1919, when he became the maintenance and supply officer at the Air Service Flying School. The following October he commanded the Air Service depot in Morrison, Virginia for a month before being assigned to the Director of the Air Service in Washington, DC, where his rank of major became permanent in 1920. That same year, he became commander of Crissy Field, California (now part of the National Park Service). In 1924 he was assigned to the intermediate depot at Fairfield, Ohio, where he was the officer in charge of the field service section until June 1927, when he attended the US Army Air Corps Tactical School at Langley Field (now Langley Air Force Base, a part of Joint Base Langley-Eustis), Virginia, after which he was selected for the two-year Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After graduating, he commanded Selfridge Field, Michigan (now closed) for a short time before returning to Fort Leavenworth as an Air Corps instructor from 1933 to 1935. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, he was selected to attend the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania and upon graduation, he became commander of the 19th Wing, then stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, with the temporary rank of brigadier general. Upon returning to the US, he reverted to his permanent rank of lieutenant colonel and was briefly stationed in Menlo Park, California, before moving to Langley Field. In February 1939 he was assigned to Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base), Ohio as assistant to the chief of the US Army Air Corps, also serving as commandant of the Air Corps Engineering School and the chief of the Materiel Division. He was then promoted to the rank of brigadier general before being promoted to major general in October 1940. In May 1941 he formally became Chief of the US Army Air Corps but the June 1941 reorganization that made General Henry "Hap" Arnold the Chief of United States Army Air Forces made the post of Chief of the Air Corps somewhat redundant, and he was sent to England to determine how the Army Air Forces could better support Royal Air Force Lend-Lease requirements. His recommendation that American labor and facilities be established in England to handle the repair, assembly, and equipping of American aircraft was disapproved by Arnold on the grounds that the personnel and equipment were not available. He then visited to the Middle East where his outspoken criticism of arrangements there antagonized his British hosts and as a result, he was ordered to return to the US in December 1941. When the US entered World War II that month, he was immediately sent to the South West Pacific Theater of Operations and became the Deputy Supreme Commander of the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command under Sir Archibald Wavell, the British Commander-in-Chief, India, first at Darwin, Australia and a month later at Lembang, West Java. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, and with the rapid advance of Japanese forces, he returned to Melbourne, Australia in February 1942 and resumed command of US Army Forces in Australia after the ABDA Command was formally dissolved later that month. The following month General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia from the Philippines to become the Supreme Commander Couth West Pacific Area. He then became commander of Allied Air Forces, Southwest Pacific Area, with his headquarters in Melbourne. When MacArthur ordered a bombing mission to the Philippines, he protested because his planes were worn out and his men were exhausted, but carried out the mission in spite of that. MacArthur personally wrote him a reprimand and further disagreements between them followed. In August 1942 he returned to the US, and after a time without any command, he was appointed commander of the US Caribbean Defense Command and the US Army's Panama Canal Department in November 1942. In early 1945 the US Army Inspector General investigated a series of allegations against him regarding the misuse of Army funds and property however, most of the charges were distortions of mission-related events and expenditures, and the remaining allegations had no basis in fact, and that no further action was taken. He then requested voluntary retirement and retired in April of that year with the rank of major general, only to be immediately recalled to active duty as a temporary lieutenant general and as Commanding General of the Caribbean Defense Command and Panama Canal Department, and served in this position until October 1945. After spending time as a patient in Brooke General Hospital (now San Antonio Military Medical Center) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he retired in May 1946 with 36 years of continuous military service. Among his military and foreign decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the World War I Victory Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, the British Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, and 15 other foreign decorations. He was a rated command pilot, combat observer, and technical observer, and he held honorary commissions in five Central and South American countries. He was then advanced to the grade of lieutenant general on the US Air Force retired list by an Act of Congress in June 1948. He died of cancer at the age of 77. He is the father of Air Force Lieutenant General Carroll Devol "Rock" Brett. An interesting note: The B-17D Flying Fortress bomber, "The Swoose," which he used extensively for his personal transport during World War II, and which he often piloted, is today the oldest, intact, surviving B-17 Flying Fortress and the only "D" model still in existence. It was transferred from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in July 2008.

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), USAFFE Headquarters 2nd Cavalry DivisionArmy Air Corps
  1909-1912, 1620, 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), USAFFE Headquarters
  1912-1916, 2nd Cavalry Division
  1916-1920, Aviation Section US Signal Corps
  1920-1946, Army Air Corps
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I
  1942-1942 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/East Indies Campaign (1942)
  1942-1942 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater
  1942-1943 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
  1943-1944 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)
  1943-1945 WWII - China-Burma-India Theater/India-Burma Campaign (1942-45)
 Colleges Attended 
Virginia Military Institute
  1905-1909, Virginia Military Institute
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