Stratemeyer, George Edward

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CG FEAF See The three wars of Stratemeyer


July 5, 1950


  1. Stratemeyer,
  2. Lt. Gen. Kenneth B. Wolfe,
  3. Partridge,
  4. Maj. Gen. Eugene L. Eubank, and
  5. Maj. Gen. Alvan C. Kincaid.
  6. Col. Joseph H. Hicks,
  7. Col. C. P. Brown,
  8. Maj. Gen. Otto P. Weyland,
  9. Maj. Gen. Howard M. Turner,
  10. Brig. Gen. Walter R. Agee,
  11. Maj. Gen. Frank F. Everest, and
  12. Maj. Gen. Dean C. Strother.

USAF --General Stratemeyer became the commanding general, Far East Air Force. Far East Command in April 1949 and was in command there when the Korean War began. He suffered a severe heart attack in May 1951 and relinquished his command to Gen. Otto P. Weyland in June 1951. He retired from active duty Jan. 31, 1952.


Stratemeyer ,Lt Gen George Edward

Lieutenant General George Edward Stratemeyer was World War II chief of Air Staff and Far East Air Forces commander during the first year of the Korean War.

Stratemeyer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1890. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1915 as a second lieutenant of Infantry. He served with the 7th and 34th Infantry divisions in Texas and Arizona until September 1916 when he was detailed to the Aviation Section for flying training at Rockwell Field, San Diego, Calif. Stratemeyer became a first lieutenant in June 1916. He became commanding officer of the Air Service Flying and Technical Schools at Kelly Field, Texas in May 1917. He became a captain in August 1917 and later commanding officer of Chanute Field, Ill. Stratemeyer was promoted to major in August 1918. With official transfer to the Air Corps from the Infantry in 1920 he went to Luke Field,
Hawaii as commanding officer of the 10th Air Park.

He returned to West Point in August 1924 as instructor in tactics. He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School at Langley Field, Va., in June 1930 and from the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1932. He remained at Leavenworth as an instructor for the next four years. Stratemeyer was promoted to lieutenant colonel in June 1936 and assigned to command the 7th Bomb Group at Hamilton Field, Calif. He graduated from the Army War College in 1939 and went to the office of the Chief of Air Corps as head of the Training and Operations Division, with promotion to colonel in March 1940.

A year later Stratemeyer became executive officer to General H.H. Arnold, the chief of the Air Corps, and in August he was promoted to brigadier general. General Stratemeyer commanded the Southeast Air Corps Training Center at Maxwell Field, Ala., for five months and returned to Washington in June 1942 as chief of Air Staff for General Arnold. He had been promoted to major general in February 1942.

General Stratemeyer went to the China-Burma-India Theater in mid-1943, becoming commanding general of the India-Burma Sector and air adviser to the commanding general of the China-Burma-India Theater. Stratemeyer was promoted to lieutenant general in May 1945 and from April 1944 until March 1946 was commander of the Army Air Forces in the China Theater with headquarters at Chungking. (1 of 2)9/6/2004 9:07:55 AM

After the war General Stratemeyer commanded the Air Defense Command at Mitchel Field, N.Y., and the Continental Air Command which was organized there in November 1948. At both positions, Stratemeyer tried to improve America's warning system.

He went to Tokyo in April 1949 as commanding general of Far East Air Forces, which he led through the first year of the Korean War. His units responded rapidly to the North Koreans' invasion of the South and provided South Korea and MacArthur with the vital air arm.

General Stratemeyer had a serious heart attack in Tokyo in May 1951 and was confined to the Air Force hospital at nearby Tachikawa.

His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with oak leaf cluster; American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with five service stars; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with service star; World War I Victory Medal; World War II Victory Medal; American Campaign Medal with service star; National Defense Service Medal; Korean Service Medal with four service stars; Mexican Border Service Medal; Ho-Tu Medal of Chinese Air Force; Tashou Cloud Banner (Chinese); British Order of Companion of the Bath Chinese Special; Chinese Pilot's Badge; Polish Order of Polonia Restituta Commander's Cross; Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Degree of Knight Commander; Yugoslavian pilot's badge.

Retired Jan. 31, 1952, Died Aug. 11, 1969

June 25, 1950

Altogether, on 25 June 1950, General Stratemeyer controlled 30 USAF squadrons, or the equivalent of nine of USAF's total of 48 combat wings. This was the largest aggregation of USAF units outside the continental limits of the United States, but budgetary limitations, taken in context with the Far East Command's defensive mission, had caused significant reductions in FEAF strength.

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Earlier in fiscal year 1950, FEAF had lost a squadron of light bombers and the 314th and 315th Air Divisions, the latter being small headquarters organizations which had provided an intermediate control of the air-defense effort in Japan. At this time General MacArthur had protested that the Air Force units assigned to the Far East were so inadequate in number as to reduce his capabilities to defend the command area beyond the point of a calculated risk-almost, indeed, to the point of a "gambler's risk.#68
All but a few of the squadrons which FEAF owned or controlled were organized in basic Air Force wings. According to concept, a combat wing was a nearly self-sufficient entity in which one wing commander directed the combat effort, supporting elements, base services, and medical services necessary for the performance of his mission. The resultant combat wing was a large and complex organization, but, in theory, it possessed mobility. Tables of organization and equipment contained provisions whereby supporting personnel and equipment might be detached to accompany and support a separate combat squadron. When a whole wing was transferred, the combat-wing plan visualized that a temporary station or airbase group would be organized to replace it at the old installation. Because of the pressure for personnel savings arising from pre-1950 economy programs, however, most of FEAF's combat wings had been compelled to assume an area-command status that was inconsistent with their combat mobility.

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 Following the inactivation of the two air division headquarters in Japan, the air-defense functions previously exercised by these units had been subdivided into three parts and delegated to the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing (Northern Air Defense Area), the 35th Fighter-Interceptor Wing (Central Air Defense Area), and the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing (Southern Air Defense Area).


The 19th Bombardment Wing had become responsible for managing all USAF activities in the Marianas.#69

July 9, 1950

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[a week (5-days) after the Osan disaster]

On the night of 9 July MacArthur's chief of staff, Maj. Gen. E. M. Almond, called Brig. Gen. Jarred V. Crabb, the FEAF director of operations, on the telephone. So far, said Almond, all of FEAF's efforts against enemy armor and mechanized elements had been ineffective.


The Communist threat to General Dean's  24th Division was critical. Almond stated bluntly that General MacArthur wanted FEAF to direct all of its combat capabilities continuously and to the exclusion of other targets at the hostile columns and armor threatening the 24th Division. As General Stratemeyer expressed it, Almond gave Crabb quite a bit of "static.#35

Completely loyal to his commander in chief, General Stratemeyer immediately committed the whole of FEAF's combat capability to the support of General Dean's forces. To General Partridge went the message: "You must consider your mission primarily direct support of ground troops.#36

July 10, 1950

"Unless you direct otherwise," General Stratemeyer told General MacArthur on 10 July, "I will operate every combat airplane in the Far East Air Forces in support of ground troops against those targets in battlefield support as suggested by the Fifth Air Force Advanced Headquarters in conjunction with General Dean's Headquarters.

But General Stratemeyer was gravely troubled on three counts.

  1. MacArthur's staff was telling FEAF how to conduct its air operations, and the way these staffmen wanted air operations conducted was quite inefficient.

  2.  Tactical air operations could not be managed from Tokyo: battlefield air support was a matter which concerned General Partridge and General Dean.

  3.  And Stratemeyer resented implications that FEAF had not been doing a good job in Korea.

On the morning of 10 July Stratemeyer wrote a memorandum which he personally carried to General MacArthur. In his memorandum and in his discussion Stratemeyer reminded MacArthur of the great confidence which he had placed upon Generals Kenney and Whitehead. He, Stratemeyer, hoped to merit a similar degree of confidence.

"Your directions to me," Stratemeyer told MacArthur,

"will be conducted in the most efficient manner that we can plan, and I am sure that it is not your intention to tell me how to do the job.

General MacArthur replied that he had the same confidence in Stratemeyer that he had had in Generals Kenney and Whitehead. He was personally enthusiastic about FEAF's accomplishments in Korea. MacArthur also emphasized that Stratemeyer was to run his "show" as he saw fit, regardless of instructions from GHQ staff members.#38

July 11, 1950

After receiving this show of confidence from the commander in chief, General Stratemeyer signed and dispatched formal mission letters to the FEAF Bomber Command and Fifth Air Force. On 11 July he directed Bomber Command to handle deep interdiction and strategic targets; on 12 July he made the Fifth Air Force responsible for tactical air operations in Korea.#39

At the close of the day on 11 July General Partridge expressed a belief that the 24th Division had weathered its crisis. Reporting that he had more fighter-bomber and fighter-strafer capability than profitable targets, General Partridge suggested that the medium bombers could help most if they would attack bridges farther to the north which were serving the Communists.#54  

July 11, 1950

0130 via PanAm, General and Mrs. Doolittle arrive at Haneda. Billeted at the Imperial.

0655 Departed Okinawa 0655 hours and arrived Haneda


arrived Haneda, Came direct to the office where I had a sandwich
for lunch and read my personal mail. Signed a letter to General MacArthur on how we are to operate the ground support for General Walker.

128 General Eubank is taking this direct to General Hickey and General Almond along with a set of pictures showing the destructive effect of the FEAF Bomber Command strike yesterday on Sŏul - 1,504 x five hundred pound bombs were dropped - or 376 tons. 92d flew all thirty of its bombers and the 19th flew seventeen.

1900 The Doolittle's and General Banfill had dinner with us.
Fighters of the Fifth Air Force shot down two Yaks. <== only 1.

August 8, 1950

When the 98th and 307th Groups arrived in the theater, General Stratemeyer on 8 August ordered O'Donnell to put the strategic offensive into effect, using the maximum effort of two B-29 groups against industrial targets every third day.#14

#14 Daily diary D/Opns. FEAF, 8 Aug. 1950; msg. AX-4143; CG FEAF to CG FEAF BomCom, 12 Aug. 1950.

 This allocation of effort continued in force until 20 August, when General Weyland, arguing the fact that several of the newly designated Joint Chiefs of Staff strategic objectives were actually interdiction targets, persuaded the FEC Target Selection Committee to commit three medium-bomber groups to strategic bombing.#15

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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.


On 8 August General Stratemeyer ordered O'Donnell to execute industrial attacks with a maximum effort of two groups every third day while the normal effort of three groups would remain committed to daily interdiction attacks. General O'Donnell was authorized to select the industrial targets for attack.

While the prohibition on incendiaries necessitated additional sorties, General O'Donnell privately hoped to improve on the seven missions per B-29 per month which MacArthur had said would satisfy him.



April 1951

In April 1951, Communist ground fire claimed 40 Air Force fighter-bombers, including 25 Mustangs. As a result, Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, commander of the U.S. Far East Air Forces, sent a request to Air Force headquarters asking if any F-47s were available for use in Korea. He noted a tremendous increase in small arms fire and flak, but added that

“All here know that
[the] F-47 can take it.”

(28) Stratemeyer explained that the situation was so desperate he would gratefully accept just 25 F-47s then serving with the Hawaii Air National Guard. In response to Stratemeyer’s request, Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Air Force chief of staff, explained that considering the current availability of F-47s, the lack of spare parts, and the problems of introducing another type of fighter aircraft,

“we fail to see any appreciable results to be gained by the substitution.” (29)

 Vandenberg admitted the F-47 would likely confirm its reputation from World War II and prove less vulnerable than the F51, but he believed that

“the disparity between the F-47 and your jet types would be almost as great as the disparity between the F-51s and jets.” (30)

He concluded that the problem could really only be solved by replacing the Mustangs with jets, adding that exchanging the F-51s for F-47s would require a complete change in the familiarization training pilots received prior to flying combat missions in Korea. (31) Unfortunately for the pilots who continued flying missions in the F-51, the jets came slowly–the last Mustangs were not withdrawn from combat until January 22, 1953.

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


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 26, 1950


Enroute back to Tokyo after two weeks’ temporary duty in Washington, D. C. and landed at Hickam [AFB in Honolulu] when the news reached me (Stratemeyer) that North Korea had declared war on South Korea as of 1100 hours that day.

Actually, North Korean forces had crossed the 38th Parallel as early as 0400 hours, 25 June, to take not only South Korea but the rest of the world by surprise. Field intelligence had broken down somewhere and FEC had no forewarned knowledge of the massing of the estimated 200,000 troops nor their intent to cross the Parallel.

Upon receipt of news of the civil war, I changed my plans to return direct to Tokyo via Wake instead of Okinawa.