Brereton, Lewis H. (Lewis Hyde), 1890-1967

Alternative names
Birth 1890-06-21
Death 1967-07-20

Biographical notes:

Lewis Hyde Brereton (1890-1967) was a military aviator and commander of various air forces for the United States during World War II. He served as Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission from 1945 to 1958.

From the description of Brereton, Lewis H. (Lewis Hyde), 1890-1967 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10571439

Lewis Hyde Brereton (1890-1967) was a military aviator and United States Army Air Forces officer. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1911, served with distinction in World War I and World War II, and retired in 1948 with the rank of General.

Brereton was one of the first military pilots of the United States Army, assigned to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps in September 1912. He remained on active duty in the air services branch continuously until it eventually became the United States Air Force in 1947, the only service member to do so. During World War I he served in France on the staff of General Benjamin D. Foulois, commander of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force. In 1918 he was given command of the 12th Aero Squadron and at the close of the war he held the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Between the wars he was assistant military attaché for air at the U.S. Embassy in Paris from 1920-1922. He served as commanding officer of the 10th School Group in at Kelly Field, Texas where he oversaw the training of American pilots and was also an instructor at the Air Service Tactical School at Langley Air Force Base. In 1925 he served as co-counsel for the defense at the court-martial of Billy Mitchell. During the late 1920s he suffered personal setbacks, including excessive drinking and the dissolution of his marriage of 14 years, but by 1931 he had recovered his focus and his career was back on track.

During World War II he served in combat theaters continuously from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the German surrender. He was chosen personally by General Douglas MacArthur in 1941 to command the Far East Air Force and was later appointed commander of United States Army Middle East Air Forces and then of the First Allied Airborne Army. Forces under his command took place in Operations Overlord, Cobra, Market Garden and Varsity.

Brereton's post-war career included positions as commander of the Third Air Force at MacDill in Florida, Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and secretary general of the Air Board. In 1946 he published his memoirs, The Brereton Diaries, about his wartime experiences.

Lt. General Brereton received numerous citations and awards during his career. These include the Distinguished Service Cross ("for extraordinary heroism in action"), Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as awards from France (Commander and Officer of the Legion of Honor; Croix de Guerre with Palm), England (Companion, Order of the Bath) and the Netherlands (Grand Officer, Order of Orange-Nassau). He was described by a former subordinate, Major General Cecil F. Combs, as "a cocky, aggressive, intelligent, experienced, pretty damn able commander."

See also his full biography at .

From the guide to the Lewis H. Brereton Papers, 1913-1941, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)


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  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives
  • Military history
  • Military history, Modern--20th century
  • World War, 1914-1918--Aerial operations, American
  • Soldiers--Caricatures and cartoons
  • Military spouses


  • Armed forces--Officers


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