Biography

Partridge, Earle Everard
[MGen CG 5thAF]

USMA 1924

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From the beginning of hostilities in Korea, General Partridge employed some of his Fifth Air Force fighters on armed reconnaissance missions. When the 24th Infantry Division fought the North Koreans at Taejon in early July, Partridge sent the Fifth Air Force to furnish close support and throughout the critical days in July the Fifth Air Force and the Eighth Army set a brilliant example of air and ground cooperation at its best.


Earle Everard Partridge was born in Winchendon, Mass., enlisted in the Army in July 1918 at Fort Slocum, N.Y., and was assigned to the 5th Engineer Training Regiment at Camp Humphries, Va. He went to France in August 1918 to join the 79th Division, participating in the St. Mihiel and Argonne operations prior to the Armistice. When the division returned in June 1919 he was honorably discharged.


Partridge spent a year at Norwich University, reenlisted in June 1920, and four years later graduated from the U.S. Military Academy as a second lieutenant in the Air Service. Partridge received flight training at Brooks and Kelly fields, Texas. He served 10 months with the 3rd Attack Group at Kelly, where he was a flying instructor until September 1929. He had been appointed first lieutenant in December 1928.

Lieutenant Partridge taught mathematics at West Point for a year and then went to the Canal Zone with the 6th Composite Group at France Field. He was adjutant and assistant operations officer of the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Mich., in the spring of 1933. He later served there as commanding officer of the 94th Pursuit Squadron. Partridge was promoted to captain in April 1933.


In mid-July 1936 Partridge became a test pilot at Wright Field, flying many of the planes which were later used in World War II. Captain Partridge completed the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., and the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He became major in March 1940 and helped establish flying schools in the Southeast. Partridge started single-engine flying schools at Barksdale Field, La., and Dothan, Ala.


Major Partridge was a member of the Air War Plan's Division at Headquarters Army Air Forces from October 1941 until the following March. He was appointed lieutenant colonel in November 1941. He became a colonel and a member of the Joint Strategy Committee, Strategy and Policy Group of the War Department General Staff in March 1942. Partridge was promoted to brigadier general in December 1942 and appointed commanding general of the New York Air Defense Wing at Mitchel Field, N.Y.



That spring Partridge went overseas as operations officer for the Northwest African Air Force and became chief of staff of both the 12th Bomber Command and the Fifteenth Air Force. He moved to England in January 1944 as deputy commander of the Eighth Air Force and became major general in May. One month later General Partridge became commanding general of the 3rd Bomb Division. He became deputy commanding general of the Eighth Air Force in August 1945, assisting in its reorganization and movement to Okinawa.


Partridge returned to Headquarters Army Air Forces in January 1946 as assistant chief of staff for operations.

KOREA

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He went to Japan in October 1948 as commanding general of the Fifth Air Force, serving through the first year of the Korean War. Partridge was promoted to lieutenant general in April 1951.

 

On his return to the United States in June Partridge commanded the newly formed Air Research and Development Command at Baltimore, Md., until June 1953 when he went to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as Deputy Chief of Operations for Operations.


Going to Japan in April 1954 as a four-star general he became commander of the Far East Air Forces at Tokyo. Partridge returned home in July 1955 and was named commander in chief of the North American Air Defense Command and its Air Force Component, the Air Defense Command, at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs. He retired from active duty July 31, 1959.


General Partridge's awards and decorations include the


Retired July 31, 1959, Died Sept. 7, 1990

 

 

June 25

Maj. Gen. Earle E. Partridge, who was commander, 5th Air Force, but serving as acting commander of Far East Air Forces (FEAF), ordered wing commanders to prepare for air evacuation of US citizens from South Korea. He increased aerial surveillance of Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan. The 20th Air Force placed two squadrons of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing (FIW) on air defense alert in Japan

August 8, 1950

Two days later General Stratemeyer ordered Partridge to step up night attack sorties to 50 a day, using B-26 's, F-82 's, F-51 's, and F-80 's. General Partridge had already tried F-80 night intruders, but they had found it impossible to strafe enemy road traffic, which could not be easily identified at fast speeds even on moonlit nights. Night attack missions by F-82's had been of little value except against known and fixed targets, such as airfields and towns.

 

Some F-51 night harassing missions had been attempted with "almost nil" destructive results; although targets could be located by the Mustang pilots without too much difficulty, rocket or machine-gun fire so blinded the pilots that accuracy was impossible. Night dive bombing was not effective since targets were not easily discernible from any appreciable altitude and faulty depth perception generally induced early release and inaccurate drops.

June 25, 1950

June 25: North Korea invaded South Korea. Simultaneously, North Korean troops made an amphibious landing at Kangnung on the east coast just south of the 38th parallel. North Korean fighter aircraft attacked airfields at Kimp'o and Sŏul, the South Korean capital, destroying one USAF C-54 on the ground at Kimp'o.

John J. Muccio, US ambassador to South Korea, relayed to President Harry S. Truman a South Korean request for US air assistance and ammunition. The UN Security Council unanimously called for a cease-fire and withdrawal of the North Korean Army to north of the 38th parallel. The resolution asked all UN members to support the withdrawal of the NKA and to render no assistance to North Korea.

Maj. Gen. Earle E. Partridge, who was commander, 5th Air Force, but serving as acting commander of Far East Air Forces (FEAF), ordered wing commanders to prepare for air evacuation of US citizens from South Korea. He increased aerial surveillance of Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan. The 20th Air Force placed two squadrons of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing (FIW) on air defense alert in Japan.  [note]

KPAFAC Yak-9 1 x C-54 destroyed 7 out of 16 ROKAF trainers destroyed

June 25, 1950

 Recognizing the limited value of battalion-level training, General Partridge worked earnestly to secure closer joint operations with the Eighth Army. Following the failure of communications in a joint theater-command post exercise early in April 1950, Partridge specifically recommended that a joint operations center be established, with regularly assigned Army, Navy, and Air Force representatives. Unfortunately, this proposal was not approved by the Far East Command.#83

He will cry about this for the next year.

 The air units in FEAF lacked much that they needed for peak effectiveness, but all of them were able to operate on the day that the war began.

Such was not true of the engineer aviation units assigned to FEAF, and this construction capability was a significant weakness to offensive planning.

 Assigned to FEAF were two engineer aviation group headquarters and service companies, five engineer aviation battalions, and one engineer aviation maintenance company. Headquarters and Service Company, 930th Engineer Aviation Group, was assigned to the Fifth Air Force. With station at Nagoya, this group directed construction done by civilian contractors in Japan.

Assigned to the Twentieth Air Force was the Headquarters and Service Company, 931st Engineer Aviation Group, the 802nd, 808th, 811th, 822nd, and 839th Engineer Aviation Battalions, and the 919th Engineer Aviation Maintenance Company. All of these units except the 811th Battalion (which was stationed on Guam) were engaged in construction work on Okinawa.#84

 

62   U.S. Air Force in Korea

 All aviation engineer troops were "Special Category Army Personnel with Air Force"  (SCARWAF) troops. They were recruited, trained, and assigned to units by the Department of Army, but they were charged against Air Force strength. All of these aviation engineer units were in sad shape.

Theater-work assignments had not developed battalion skills. Serving on Guam-where a normal tour of duty was twelve months-the 811th Battalion was "totally untrained.#

In the scheduled construction projects on Okinawa, the prime duty of the 822nd Battalion had been to operate a rock quarry. Most engineer equipment was war-weary from World War II, and, for some more obsolete items, spare parts were no longer stocked.

Engineer aviation skill specialties had been marked by inadequate training and improper balances of supervisory and operating personnel.

June 25, 1950 0945

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Back in Tokyo, FEAF headquarters first learned of the hostilities at 0945 hours, Japanese time, by a message from the OSI office in Sŏul; by 1130 hours all key staff officers had been notified. General Partridge at the moment was acting commander of FEAF, while General Stratemeyer was en route back from the United States, but pending higher level decisions he had to stand by until CINCFE issued an order to cover the situation.

June 25, 1950 1130

As the Sunday which was 25 June 1950 began there was little to mark it different from any other first day of the week. Over most of Japan the weather was fine, except that it was becoming hot and there were scattered showers. The summer monsoon was beginning. Weather predictions called for continued good weather on Monday and most of Tuesday, but thereafter a southwardly drifting polar front promised to bring low clouds and rain down through nearby Korea and across the narrow sea to Japan. The weather prediction did not seem particularly important to the duty officers in the Meiji building as they managed the routine of the morning at FEAF headquarters. Business was generally quiet in Tokyo. General Stratemeyer was not in Japan.

After conferences in Washington, on the morning [7AM] of 25 June he was some-where in flight between San Francisco and Hawaii. Before returning to Tokyo, he meant to pay a command visit to the Twentieth Air Force on Okinawa.   

With Stratemeyer absent, General Partridge was acting commander of FEAF He had been spending a part of his time in Tokyo, but on the morning of 25 June he was with his family in Nagoya. 1o  

Although the report was promptly flashed to all FEAF units, General Partridge was not in his quarters in Nagoya and did not get the news from Korea until 1130 hours. General Partridge at once acknowledged the gravity of the situation, but he knew that the Far East Command had only one minor mission concerning Korea. At the outbreak of a war or general domestic disorder, and then only at the request of the American ambassador, the Far East Command was required to provide for the safety of American nationals in Korea.

June 25, 1950 1130

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General Partridge at once acknowledged the gravity of the situation, but he knew that the Far East Command had only one minor mission concerning Korea. At the outbreak of a war or general domestic disorder, and then only at the request of the American ambassador, the Far East Command was required to provide for the safety of American nationals in Korea. #14

For the accomplishment of the air-evacuation mission General MacArthur had charged FEAF to furnish such air-transport aircraft as might be needed to move Americans out of Korea. He had also charged FEAF to be ready to attack hostile ground and surface targets in support of the evacuation, but not before he issued specific instructions so to do. The Fifth Air Force had issued its operation plan on 1 March 1950.

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Since Itazuke Air Base was closest to Korea, General Partridge had designated the commander of the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing as air-task force commander. Assisted by other combat wings as needful. the 8th Wing commander was directed to provide fighter cover for air and water evacuations. and he was given operational control over the transport planes which the 374th troop Carrier Wing would send to him from Tachikawa.

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Other wing commanders had stipulated duties: the 3rd Bombardment Wing, for example, was to stage six B-26's to Ashiya Air Base (near Itazuke) where they would fly reconnaissance and cover missions over the water areas off Korea. #15

Shortly after 1130 hours General Partridge ordered all Fifth Air Force wing commanders to complete the deployments required to implement the air evacuation plan, but he cautioned all of them that flights to Korea would await further orders.#16

During the afternoon and early evening of 25 June Col. John M. ("Jack") Price, commander of the 8th Wing, marshaled his own F-80 and F-82 fighters, 10 B-26's, 12 C-54's, and 3 C-47's.

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By a fortunate circumstance, the 8th Bombardment Squadron (Light) had come to Ashiya for a FEAF air-defense readiness test on 24 June, and its B-26's were in place when the alert sounded.

June 25, 1950 1130

biography

Back in Tokyo, FEAF headquarters first learned of the hostilities at 0945 hours, Japanese time, by a message from the OSI office in Sŏul; by 1130 hours all key staff officers had been notified. General Partridge at the moment was acting commander of FEAF, while General Stratemeyer was en route back from the United States, but pending higher level decisions he had to stand by until CINCFE issued an order to cover the situation.

June 25, 1950 1130

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General Partridge was not in his quarters in Nagoya Japan and did not get the news from Korea until 1130 hours.

June 25, 1950 2100

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At 2100 hours Colonel Price telephoned Fifth Air Force operations that he was prepared to execute the evacuation operations plan beginning at 0330 hours on 26 June, a time which would permit the first C-54 to arrive at Sŏul's Kimp'o Airfield before dawn. #17

That same evening General Partridge, who had elected to remain at Nagoya while his air force implemented the evacuation plan, held a conference of his key staff members. All of them agreed that the Fifth Air Force was ready for such instructions as it might receive. The talk then drifted around to American policy toward Korea, what it was likely to be. One staff officer suggested that the United States might abandon South Korea to the Reds. General Partridge disagreed completely. Such a line of action, he said, was "unthinkable." He believed that new policies on Korea would be forthcoming from Washington. #18

June 26, 1950

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At 0045 hours on 26 June Brig. Gen. Jarred V. Crabb, the FEAF Director of Operations, awakened General Partridge with a telephone call: General MacArthur had ordered FEAF to provide fighter cover while the freighters loaded and withdrew from Inch'ŏn. The fighters were to remain offshore at all times, but they were to shoot in defense of the freighters.

General Partridge instructed the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing to furnish the freighters with combat air patrols. Within a few minutes, however, Fifth Air Force operations let General Crabb know that Colonel Price anticipated difficulties. This patrol work was a job for long-range conventional aircraft, not for the speedy but fuel-hungry jets. Colonel Price's 68th Fighter All-Weather Squadron had twelve operational F-82's, but he needed more aircraft than this. The Fifth Air Force first asked if it would not be possible to use the RAAF No. 77 Squadron's Mustangs, but General Crabb replied that the British had not yet taken a stand in the Korean war. The Fifth Air Force therefore ordered the 339th Fighter All-Weather Squadron to move its combat-ready F-82's from Yokota to Itazuke. This was still not enough of the long-range fighters, and General Crabb ordered the Twentieth Air Force to send eight of the 4th Squadron's planes up to Itazuke from Okinawa. To clear his ramps to receive these additional fighters, Colonel Price moved the contingent of C-54's from Itazuke to nearby Ashiya.  

June 26, 1950

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Early on the morning of 26 June General Partridge flew from Nagoya to Tokyo's Haneda Airfield. At FEAF headquarters he held a staff conference, where the principal matter of discussion was the evacuation operation. Throughout the morning intelligence reports were optimistic. KMAG reported "increased steadiness" on the part of ROK troops opposing the tank column north of Sŏul, that Ch'unch'ŏn had been retaken, and that the invaders on the east coast had been contained. These reports were so favorable that FEAF released the C-54 transports at Ashiya to return to normal duties.#27