Ernest T. Cragg, a retired Major General in the Air Force and a World War II pilot, died March 9 of congestive heart failure at his home in Arlington, Virginia.
General Cragg was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1943. He also received a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University and graduated from the National War College, both in 1963.
During World War II, he served in the European theater as a Pilot, Flight Commander and Assistant Operations Officer, completing 76 combat missions in P-38s and P-51s. He served with the 563rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Etain air base in France and with the Twelfth Air Force in Ramstein, Germany.
In 1965, he became Commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing in England. He also served as Commander of the 3500th Pilot Training Wing at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, which he considered his favorite and most challenging assignment. After commanding the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center at Norton Air Force Base, California, he became chief of staff of the Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, based in Naples, Italy. A Command Pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours, he retired in 1975.
General Cragg's decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters. On the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, he attended a dinner celebration in Portsmouth, England, at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II.
After retiring from the military, he became general director of RTB-Olympic Travel in New York City, charged with the logistical planning and management for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. After the Olympics, he served as chief executive officer of the Society of Military Travelers, a travel agency that catered primarily to military personnel and their families. He retired a second time in 1994. He also wrote a travel guide for the military.
In Arlington, General Cragg was active with a local chapter of Ducks Unlimited and was the neighborhood handyman for small repairs and other needs. He also built a 1929 Mercedes-Benz from a kit, using a 1966 Mustang engine. He loved hunting on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He also hunted wild boar in Turkey and the former Yugoslavia and pheasants in North Dakota.
His first wife, Helen Cragg, died in 1972.
Survivors include his wife of 34 years, Galina Cragg of Arlington; three children, Dawn Cragg and Edward Cragg, both of Arlington, and Peter Cragg of Houston; a sister; and four grandchildren.
By combining them in the same paragraph, this obituary implies that his service with the 563rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron and with the Twelfth Air Force were part of his World War II service. In fact that service was from 1955-1958. During World War II his service was with the 401st Fighter Bomber Squadron, 370th Fighter Group and then with the IX Tactical Air Command. During the occupation he served with the 70th Fighter Wing at Neubiberg, Germany.
Since Etain Air Base France was not ready for flight operations, the 563rd was intermly based at Bitburg Germany. By the time it deployed to Etain, General Cragg had already transfered to the 12th Air Force.
Edward and Peter Cragg are his sons by his first wife, Helen Cragg, Dawn Cragg is his daughter by his second wife Galina Cragg.
Courtesy of the United States Air Force
MAJOR GENERAL ERNEST T. CRAGG
Retired Aug. 1, 1975. Died March 9, 2006.
Major General Ernest T. Cragg was chief of staff of the Allied Air Forces Southern Europe (AIRSOUTH) in Naples, Italy. In this NATO position General Cragg had responsibility for the functioning of the staff elements assigned to Commander, AIRSOUTH, and insuring that the tasks related to the various activities of land based tactical air forces in the southern region are effectively pursued.
General Cragg was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1922. He graduated from Greenwich High School, Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1939, and attended the Stanton Preparatory Academy at Cornwall, N.Y., during 1939-1940. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1940 and received his bachelor of science degree, pilot wings and commission as Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps in June 1943. He attended the University of Michigan as a graduate student in electrical engineering, during 1947-1949, under the Air Force Institute of Technology program, and in 1963 was awarded a master of arts degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. He graduated from the National War College in July 1963.
During World War II, General Cragg served in the European Theater of Operations, from January 1944 until the end of World War II in Europe, in many capacities including pilot, flight commander and assistant operations officer of the 401st Fighter Bomber Squadron, 370th Fighter Group. He completed 76 combat missions totaling 175 flying hours in P-38 and P-51 aircraft. He was assigned for six months to the 9th Infantry Division and the 9th Armored Division as air liaison officer and forward air controller and then to the IX Tactical Air Command as combat operations duty officer. His immediate postwar assignment was with the 70th Fighter Wing at Neubiberg, Germany, as the assistant chief of staff, operations.
General Cragg returned to the United States in August 1946 and was assigned as senior air instructor for the Rhode Island Air National Guard. He attended the University of Michigan, from June 1947 to February 1949, and then the Special Weapons Course at Sandia Base, New Mexico. He remained at Sandia Base as senior instructor and in October 1949 became chief of training at the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. In May 1951 he was assigned to Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, as director of special weapons.
In March 1954 General Cragg was transferred to Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, and assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing, as group operations officer and in August 1954 became commander of the 563d Fighter Bomber Squadron. He went with the squadron to Etain Air Base, France. During the period April 1955 to December 1957, he was assigned to the Twelfth Air Force at Ramstein, Germany, where he served as chief, Special Weapons Division; chief, Tactical Operations Division; and later deputy director of operations and training. In January 1958 he was appointed director of the Combat Operations Center, Twelfth Air Force, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe Advanced Echelon, Kindsbach, Germany.
General Cragg returned to the United States in August 1958 and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs, as action officer with the Office of the Assistant Deputy Director of Plans for War Plans. In July 1963 he assumed duties as vice commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Wethersfield, England, and in June 1965 became commander.
In July 1966 General Cragg was assigned to Air Training Command as commander of the 3500th Pilot Training Wing, at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, and in August 1967 became deputy chief of staff, operations, for Headquarters Air Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
He returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in June 1969 and was assigned to the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Resources as deputy director of aerospace programs, and in March 1971 became director. In December 1971 he was assigned as the assistant deputy chief of staff, programs and resources. He was vice commander of the Second Air Force (Strategic Air Command) at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, from April 1972 to November 1973. In November 1973 he assumed command of the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center at Norton Air Force Base, California.
General Cragg became chief of staff of the Allied Air Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy, in September 1974.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, and the Belgian Fourragere. He is a command pilot and has more than 5,000 flying hours.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of Major General effective May 1, 1970, with date of rank August 10, 1965. He is a permanent Major General with date of rank May 29, 1968.
CRAGG, ERNEST THORPE
- MAJ GEN US AIR FORCE
- DATE OF BIRTH: 01/19/1922
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/09/2006
- BURIED AT: SECTION 5 SITE 104
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
CRAGG, HELEN PETRABORG
- DATE OF BIRTH: 10/15/1916
- DATE OF DEATH: 01/13/1972
- BURIED AT: SECTION 5 SITE 104
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
- WIFE OF CRAGG, ERNEST THORPE
MAJ GEN US AIR FORCE
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard