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First Name: Archie

Last Name: Old

Birthplace: Farmersville, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: J.

Date of Birth: 01 April 1906

Date of Death: 24 March 1984

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served:
Archie J. Old, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Archie J. Old, Jr.
Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force


Archie J. Old Jr. was born on 1 April 1906 at Farmersville, TX. After studying Civil Engineering at Trinity University and later at Texas University, Old enlisted as a Private in the Texas National Guard on 16 April 1930.

He then attended Aviation Cadet Training in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Appointed an aviation cadet in February 1931, he completed his flight training at Brooks and Kelly Fields in Texas and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Reserve on 26 February 1932. Old was then assigned to active duty with the 13th Attack Squadron at Fort Crockett, TX, where he served until he was placed on inactive duty in February 1933.

During the following seven years he was on active duty as a reserve officer for brief periods. However, on 6 September 1940, he was ordered to extended active duty and assigned to the 52nd Bombardment Squadron at MacDill Field, FL, as Assistant Armament and Chemical Officer. The following February, he became Operations Officer of the 29th Bombardment Group (Heavy) at MacDill, later moving with the Group to Gowen Field, ID.

In September 1942, Old took command of the 96th Bomb Group (Heavy) at Walla Walla, WA. The following January he moved the 96th Bomb Group to the European Theater in England, and, in December 1943, became Chief of the 45th Combat Bomber Wing (Heavy).

Old returned to the U.S. in July 1945 and was assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters at Washington, DC. A month later, he was transferred to Air Transport Command (ATC) headquarters at Gravelly Point, VA. In December 1945, he became Commanding General of the Southwest Pacific Wing of ATC in Manila, Philippines, and, in January 1946, assumed additional duty as Commanding General of the China Wing. In July 1946, he received his Regular Army commission.

On 1 June 1948, Old became Commanding General of the 530th Air Transport Wing of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) at Fairfield-Suisan AFB, CA, and, a month later, was named as Commander of the Atlantic Division of MATS at Westover AFB, MA. In March 1950, he was appointed Acting Commander of the Eighth Air Force at Carswell AFB, TX.

In 1951, when General Curtis E. LeMay had to select a Strategic Air Command (SAC) general officer to activate and command two of SAC's important overseas Air Divisions - the 7th in England and the 5th in French Morocco - Old got both jobs. He activated the 7th Air Division in April 1951; he activated the 5th Air Division the following month. From 1951-53, he was Commanding General of the 5th Air Division, Rabat, French Morocco.

Old was assigned as Director of Operations for SAC at Offutt AFB, NE, in February 1953 where he remained until he assumed command of the Fifteenth Air Force on 22 August 1955, at March AFB, CA. Old remained as Commander of Fifteenth Air Force until his retirement from active duty on 1 September 1965.

An Insight into Archie J. Old Jr.

Archie J. Old Jr. was a perfectionist. From his early childhood in Texas, to the end of his military career, he was always known for getting the most out of everything he did.

Throughout World War II and the rise to his final military command, Fifteenth Air Force, he set rigid and exacting standards of performance. It meant pushing and driving to reach every goal. It also meant insistence on efficiency until he got what he ceaselessly demanded - the best possible results.

In his constant drive to attain perfection, Archie Old commonly pushed himself harder than his subordinates. During one briefing, after he had worked more than 14 hours, he noticed that one of his staff officers looked extremely tired. "Go to bed Bill," he said, "I'll look after the rest of this." His burning desire for increased efficiency, and his willingness to always go the 'extra mile,' made it possible for Old to post outstanding achievements into the history of military aviation.

Archie Old's well-known achievements include leading the 14 October 1943 raid against the ball-bearing works at Schweinfurt, Germany, and the first shuttle bomb run from England to Russia in June 1944. He was Commander of the 45th Combat Bomber Wing (Heavy) of the Eighth Air Force when he led these two dangerous missions. For leading the shuttle bomb flight, Old received the Army's second highest military award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

During WW II, Archie flew 43 combat missions against Germany. There used to be a saying around his headquarters in England that wing headquarters usually had to fight two battles in a raid in which Old's outfit was scheduled to fly - one against the enemy and the other keeping (then) Colonel Old on the ground.

In answer to higher headquarters directives about his flying combat missions, Old said, "Every mission I make means that I'm that much more competent to advise the boys concerning their jobs. I'll go with them anywhere - Berlin, the Ruhr, and, more important, most of us will get back."

The last of his major achievements was the first non-stop, round-the-world flight of three Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers in January 1957. When this historic project was given to Fifteenth Air Force by SAC headquarters, Old delegated it to the 93rd Bombardment Wing at Castle AFB, CA, but let it be known from the start that he would fly the lead airplane. Each aircraft carried a crew of nine and was refueled in flight by aerial tankers. The route was via Newfoundland, French Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, Ceylon, Philippines, and Guam.

After carefully reviewing all phases of planning, Old took off from Castle AFB on 16 January 1957. He then circled the globe in his B-52, a total distance of 24,325 miles, in 45 hours and 19 minutes, with an average speed of 525 miles per hour, landing at March AFB, CA, on 18 January.

Old refused to get excited when he was greeted by the press shortly after landing. He had reviewed the operation many times before taking off and knew it could be done. Old told reporters that the flight was "merely a routine SAC mission" and that "the planning and preparation that went into the aerial circumnavigation were identical to what was demanded every day in the Fifteenth Air Force and the Strategic Air Command."

Lieutenant General Archie J. Old Jr. was rated as a Command Pilot.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star Medal (2 Awards)
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross (5 Awards)
Air Medal (9 Awards)
Purple Heart
French Legion of Honor
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
French Moroccan Order of Ouissam Alouite Cherifien
Belgian Croix with Palm
British Distinguished Flying Cross
Russian Order of Suvorov


Archie Old was also honored by the naming of a golf course "The Lieutenant General Archie J. Old, Jr. Golf Course," in Riverside County, CA, located directly across Interstate Highway 215 from the March Joint Air Reserve Base.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Archie J. Old Jr. died on 24 March 1984 at the base hospital on March Air Force Base at Riverside, CA, at age 77. His wife, Annis Allday Old, died on 11 February 1995 and is buried with her husband in the Pine Crest Cemetery in Atlanta, TX. They had one daughter, Adeline.

Honoree ID: 3297   Created by: MHOH




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