Elmer Joseph Rogers, Jr. – Lieutenant General, United States Air Force

From a press report: Friday, July 19, 2002

Elmer Joseph “Rod” Rogers Jr., 98, a retired Air Force General who had been a volunteer for a Washington group that awarded scholarships to Japan’s International Christian University, died of pneumonia June 30, 2002, at Virginia Hospital Center-Arlington.

He had lived in Falls Church, Virginia, since 1961.

General Rogers, a native of Taunton, Massachusetts, joined what was then the Army Air Service in 1921 and soon established himself as a daring and skilled flier.

He was picked to be the principal stunt pilot for “Wings,” the 1927 silent film that included reenactments of dog fights in the Battle of St. Mihiel during World War I. The film, starring Clara Bow and Charles “Buddy” Rogers (no relation), won the first
Academy Award for best picture.

Years later, in an interview with Airman Magazine, General Rogers recalled squatting in the rear cockpit of the bi-winged VE-7 Chance Vought as cameras recorded the action of the star in the front.

“I got my first taste of blind flying then,” he said. “It wasn’t too bad until we were hit and turned on the fake smoke.” He even got a bit part in the film, playing a wounded airman.

In the 1920s and 1930s, he was a flight instructor.

During World War II, he commanded two heavy-bomber groups in the 15th Air Force.

He led a B-24 bombing raid on German tanks and artillery massing at the Anzio beachhead in Italy. After he dropped his load, his aircraft was downed deep behind enemy lines. He suffered serious injuries and later was rescued by a British destroyer.

He returned to action and later was named director of operations for four-engine bombers in the Mediterranean theater. In the 1940s, he served as a policy chief at the Pentagon and later as a policy adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During the Korean War, he was assistant chief of staff in the Far East Command.

He was inspector general of the Air Force from 1956 to 1959. His final command was as chairman of the military group of the Central Treaty Organization, based in Turkey. He retired in 1961.

Among his decorations were three Distinguished Service Medals, a Silver Star, a Legion of Merit, a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and an Air Medal.

He attended Harvard University, the Air War College and the National War College.

His wife, Wilma Rogers, whom he married in 1953, died in 1991.

Survivors include two daughters, Gloria Davies of Bryans Road, Judith Hauser of Teaneck, New Jersey; his sister, Mrs. Barbara Conantand friend Kazuko Barkey of McLean, Virginia; a sister; 14 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.

Courtesy of the United States Air Force

Retired December 31, 1961

Elmer Joseph Rogers Jr., was born at Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1903. Graduating from high school at Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1920, he attended Emerson Institute and later studied at Harvard University.

Appointed a flying cadet in March 1924, General Rogers entered Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas, graduated from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas on March 14, 1925 and was commissioned a second 1ieutenant in the Air Service Reserve. On June 30, 1926 he received his regular commission as a second lieutenant of Air Corps.

Assigned as a squadron adjutant, a year later General Rogers became a flying instructor at Brooks and Kelly fields, successively. Entering the Air Corps Technical School at Chanute Field, Ill., in September 1932, the general graduated the following June.

Going to Hawaii, General Rogers served with the Fourth Observation Squadron at Luke Field, and in June 1935 was transferred to the 18th Composite Ting at Fort Shafter. The following April he went to Barksdale Field, Louisiana., for duty with the Third Attack Group.

Graduating from the Air Corps Tactical School in 1939, General Rogers was assigned as an instructor with the Georgia National Guard. Joining the War Department General Staff in August 1941, he was appointed a courier of the Combined Subject Section of the Strategy and Policy Group, War Plans Division, later becoming chief of the section. In January 1943, he moved to Tampa, Fla., as deputy chief of staff of the Third Air Force.

The following August General Rogers assumed command of the 465th Bomb Group at McCook Field, Nebraska, taking it to the Mediterranean Theater in February of 1944. On March 2 he was wounded in action and hospitalized. Released from the hospital on May 14, 1944, the general was named commanding officer of the 97th Bomb Group in that theater. In August he became deputy assistant chief of staff for operations of the l5th Air Force and two months later was appointed assistant chief of staff for operations of the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force; this latter assignment was in addition to a corresponding position he already occupied in the 15th Air Force. In June 1945, General Rogers became the chief of Staff of the 15th Air force and assumed command of that organization Sept. 1, 1945.

Returning to the United States, General Rogers joined the Air Force headquarters at Washington, D.C., in December 1945 as chief of the Policy Division in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Plans. Entering the National War College at Washington, D.C., in August 1947, he graduated the next June and was assigned to the Alaskan Command at Fort Richardson, Alaska to become director of plans and operations. Hospitalized in November 1948, General Rogers returned the following May to the Alaskan Command in the same capacity, remaining there until December 1950.

In December, the general became the Air Force member on the Joint Strategic Survey Committee, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.

In September 1953, General Rogers was appointed operations officer of the Far East Command at Tokyo, Japan and on July 15, 1954 was named deputy chief of staff for plans of the Far East Command. He was designated chief of staff, Far East Command and United Nations Command April 26, 1955.

His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, and European Theater Medal with eight battle stars. His foreign decorations include the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Croix de Guerre with Palm (French), Pilots Citation, Royal Yugoslavian Air Force, the Order of the White Elephant, 2nd Class (Thailand), the Ulchi Distinguished Military Service Medal with Gold Star (Republic of Korea), the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan), and the Military Order of Taeguk (Korea). These later two decorations are still subject to Congressional approval. He is rated a command pilot, combat and aircraft observer.

The General’s wife, Wilma Hagler Rogers (1901-1991) is buried in Section 8, Arlington National Cemetery.  The General survives (note, he died in June 2002).

To whom it may concern:

Greetings. The biography of my grandfather, Lieutenant General Elmer J. Rogers, Jr., is listed incorrectly on your Web site as having three daughters. My mother Judith and aunt Gloria are his only two daughters by his first wife, Dorothy Rogers. Kazuko is not his daughter. When General Rogers and his second wife, Colonel Wilma Hague, were stationed in Japan, Kazuko was a member of their household staff. At their transfer they offered to her family the opportunity to let Kazuko travel with them as a member of their household. After the retirement of General Rogers, Kazuko married Colonel Howard Barkey and lived with him in their own home. Kazuko was named in General Rogers’ will as his friend and could be listed as such in the biography. Also, General Rogers’ sister survives him. She should be listed as Mrs. Barbara Conant.
I can be contacted at this email address if you need further information.
Many thanks, Christine Hauser


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 10/12/1933 – 12/16/1961
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/12/1903
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/30/2002
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 08/08/2002


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 02/18/1940 – 03/31/1963
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 02/18/1910
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/05/1991
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/10/1991


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment