Nathan Farragut Twining
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Nathan Farragut Twining
Nathan Farragut Twining
Nathan Twining 02.jpg
General Nathan F. Twining, c.1957-60
Born(1897-10-11)October 11, 1897
Monroe, Wisconsin
DiedMarch 29, 1982(1982-03-29) (aged 84)
Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Years of service1915-1960
Commands heldChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Alaskan Air Command
Air Materiel Command
Twentieth Air Force
Fifteenth Air Force
Thirteenth Air Force
Battles/warsMexican Border
World War II
AwardsArmy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal (2)
Army Commendation Medal
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (United Kingdom)
Commander of the Legion of Honour (France)
Commander of the National Order of Merit (France)
Croix de Guerre (France)
Order of the Phoenix (Greece)
Order of the Partisan Star with Golden Wreath (Yugoslavia)
Gold Cross of Merit with Swords (Poland)
Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of Italy
Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of the White Elephant (Thailand)
Gugseon Medal of the Order of National Security Merit (South Korea)
Taegeuk Cordon of the Order of Military Merit (South Korea)
Aviation Cross, First Class (Peru)
Medal of Merit (Egypt)
RelationsMerrill B. Twining (brother)
Nathan C. Twining (uncle)

Nathan Farragut Twining ( TWY-ning; October 11, 1897 - March 29, 1982) was a United States Air Force general, born in Monroe, Wisconsin.[1] He was Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force from 1953 until 1957, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1957 to 1960. He was the first member of the Air Force to serve as Chairman. Twining was a distinguished "mustang" officer, rising from private to four-star general and appointment to the highest post in the United States Armed Forces in the course of his 45-year career.

Early life and military career

Nathan Twining came from a military background; his forebears had served in the United States Army and United States Navy since the French and Indian War. His step-mother was Frances Staver Twining, author of Bird-Watching in the West.[2]

General Twining

In 1913, Twining moved with his family from Monroe, Wisconsin, to Oswego, Oregon. He served in the Oregon National Guard from 1915 to 1917.[2] In 1917, he received an appointment to West Point. Because the program was shortened so as to produce more officers for combat, he spent only two years at the academy and graduated just a few days too late for service in World War I.[3]

After graduating in 1919 and serving in the infantry for three years after arriving in Europe in July 1919, he transferred to the Air Service. Over the next 15 years he flew fighter aircraft in Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii, while also attending the Air Corps Tactical School and the Command and General Staff College. When World War II broke out in Europe he was assigned to the operations division on the Air Staff; then in 1942 he was sent to the South Pacific where he became chief of staff of the Allied air forces in that area.

In January 1943, he was promoted to major general and assumed command of the Thirteenth Air Force, and that same November he traveled across the world to take over the Fifteenth Air Force from Jimmy Doolittle. On 1 February 1943, the U.S. Navy rescued Brig. Gen. Twining, the 13th Air Force Commander, and 14 others near the New Hebrides. They had ditched their plane on the way from Guadalcanal to Espiritu Santo and spent six days in life rafts.[4] When Germany surrendered, Arnold sent Twining back to the Pacific to command the B-29s of the Twentieth Air Force in the last push against Japan, but he was there only a short time when the atomic strikes ended the war. On 20 October 1945, Twining led three B-29s in developing a new route from Guam to Washington via India and Germany. They completed the 13,167-mile-trip in 59 hours, 30 minutes.[4] He returned to the States where he was named commander of the Air Materiel Command, and in 1947 he took over Alaskan Air Command.

On September 23, 1947, General Twining issued a memo to Brigadier General George Schulgen of the Army Air Forces. The subject line of the memo read "AMC Opinion Concerning 'Flying Discs'". The general tone of the memo was that unidentified objects seen in the skies by military personnel were not weather, astronomical or other phenomenon but rather objects that warranted further investigation. Twining wrote "The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious."

After three years there Twining was set to retire as a lieutenant general, but when Muir Fairchild, the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, died unexpectedly of a heart attack, Twining was elevated to full general and named his successor.

When General Hoyt Vandenberg retired in mid-1953, Twining was selected as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force; during his tenure, massive retaliation based on airpower became the national strategy.

In 1956, Twining was chosen by Eisenhower to head a delegation of senior officers to visit Soviet Union, the first such exchange since World War II. He was shown by Zhukov at an air force base with Badger and Bison bombers flying overhead.[5]

In 1957, President Eisenhower appointed Twining Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Twining died on March 29, 1982 at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Component Date
None Private Oregon National Guard 1915
WW1-Corporal.svg Corporal Oregon National Guard 19 June 1916
WW1-Sergeant.svg Sergeant Oregon National Guard 25 March 1917
WW1-1sgt.svg First sergeant Oregon National Guard 1917
None Cadet United States Military Academy 14 June 1917
No pin insignia at the time Second lieutenant National Army 1 November 1918
US-O2 insignia.svg First lieutenant National Army 1 January 1920
US-O1 insignia.svg Second lieutenant Regular Army 15 December 1922
US-O2 insignia.svg First lieutenant Regular Army 20 November 1923
US-O2 insignia.svg First lieutenant Regular Army (United States Army Air Service) 16 November 1926 (transferred)
US-O3 insignia.svg Captain Regular Army (United States Army Air Corps) 20 April 1935 (temporary)
1 August 1935 (permanent)
US-O4 insignia.svg Major Regular Army (United States Army Air Corps) 1 September (accepted 7 September) 1938 (temporary)
1 July 1940 (permanent)
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant colonel Army of the United States 15 September (accepted 22 September) 1941
US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel Army of the United States 1 February 1942
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier general Army of the United States 17 June 1942
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant colonel Regular Army (United States Army Air Forces) 15 July (accepted 22 July) 1941 (temporary)
11 December 1942 (permanent)
US-O8 insignia.svg Major general Army of the United States 5 February 1943
US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant general Army of the United States 5 June 1945
US-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier general Regular Army (United States Army Air Forces) 18 July 1946
US-O8 insignia.svg Major general United States Air Force 19 February 1948
US-O10 insignia.svg General United States Air Force 10 October 1950 (temporary)
30 June 1953 (permanent)


Awards and decorations

General Twining held the ratings of Command Pilot and Aircraft Observer. In addition, General Twining was awarded numerous personal decorations from the U.S. military and foreign countries.


National Aviation Hall of Fame (1996)[8]
A city park in Monroe, Wisconsin, Twining's birthplace, and an elementary school on the Air Force base in Grand Forks, North Dakota are named after him.
An extensive amateur astronomy observatory facility located in rural central New Mexico is named after him.[9]


  1. ^ "Birth Record Details". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b "Cultural Resources Inventory: C.W. Twining House" (PDF). City of Lake Oswego. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-14. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Gen. Nathan F. Twining". United States Air Force. 2007-08-13. Archived from the original on 2012-10-15. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b "History Milestones: Monday, January 01, 1940 - Saturday, December 31, 1949". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20.
  5. ^ Campbell, Kurt M. (1989). "The Soldiers' Summit". Foreign Policy (no.75 ed.) (75): 76-91. JSTOR 1148865.
  6. ^ Official Army and Air Force Register, 1948, p. 1852.
  7. ^ Air Force Register, 1949-1951, p. 223.
  8. ^ "Paul Tibbets, Jr". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ General Nathan Twining Observatory

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Muir S. Fairchild
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Succeeded by
Gen. Thomas D. White
Preceded by
Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
Succeeded by
Gen. Thomas D. White
Preceded by
Adm. Arthur W. Radford
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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