Follett Bradley – Major General, United States Army

Major General, U.S. Army Air Forces, 1920-1944.

Born 12 February 1890 at Fort Omaha, Nebraska, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1910, from the Air Service Engineering School in 1922,  from the Air Corps Tactical School in 1927, from the Command and General Staff School in 1928, from the Army War College in 1932 and from the Naval War College in 1933.

He served in United States Navy as an Ensign from 1910 to 1912. He was then commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Field Artillery in 1912 and served to the grade of Captain from 1912 to 1920, with duty in the Ordnance Department (1914-1917) and Aviation Section, Signal Corps (1917-1918). He transferred to the Air Service in July 1920.

Career assignments include: various duties as company and field grade officer, 1920-1940, including duty as Commandant, Air Service Observation and Communications School, 1920-1921, and participant in Pulitzer Air Races, 1922; he was successively Commander, 3rd Bombardment Wing and III Bombardment Command, 1941-1942; Commanding General, First Air Force, March-July 1942; Minister to Russia, August-December 1942; Air Inspector, Headquarters, U.S. Army Air Force Headquarters, 1943.

He retired in April 1944 and died on 4 August 1952, Mineola, New York.  He was buried in with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Follett Bradley, Major General, United States Army Air Forces.  The son of Alfred Eugene Bradley, Brigadier General, United States Army.  Born 12 February 1890 and died 4 August 1952.

November 5, 1912. First artillery adjustments directed from a plane begin at Fort Riley, Kansas, by Lieutenants Henry H. Arnold, pilot, and Follett Bradley, observer.

Air-to-ground radio – November 2, 1912 – United States Army Lieutenants Follett Bradley (pilot) and Henry H Arnold. Official Army claim of event competes with a similar claim on August 27, 1910 ( ), and one undated earlier that year, but there might be a differentiation between Morse Code and actual voice transmission. This is still unclear since both refer to “wireless,” which could be either.

Ex-Leader of Eastern Theater at Mitchel Field is Dead
Sped ’42 Aid to Russia

NEW YORK, New York, August 5, 1952 – Major General Follett Bradley, UISAF, retired, died yesterday of a heart attack at Nassau Hospital, Mineola, Long Island, where he had been a patient for two days.  He was 62 years old.  His home was at 66 Poplar Street, Garden City, Long Island.

In the Spring of 1942, General Bradley was commander of the First Air Force and the Air Force of the Eastern Theater of Operations, with headquarters at Mitchel Field, Long Island.  In August of thatyear he was sent by President Roosevelt on a largely confidential mission concerned with the speeding up of our aid to Russia.  He remained in Russia until November.\

In 1943, General Bradley was inspector of the Army Air Forces and was again sent overseas on a special mission.  He retired in April 1944 because of physical disability.  Since then he had been assistant to the president of the Sperry Gyroscope Company and the company’s aviation coordinator.

General Bradley, who got his first taste of flying in the Wright Brothers famous biplane at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1912, was born in Omaha, Nebraska.  He was graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1910 and served in the Navy until 1912 when he accepted a commission as Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the Army.  He remained with the Army until 1917, rising to a Captaincy in the Ordnance Department.

Ordered to join the A.E.F. in 1917, he served under the Air Commander on matters connection with the armament of airplanes and aerial gunnery.  He advanced steadily through the grades and was appointed a Brigadier General in October 1940, a Major General in February 1942.

Among the posts he held between the two wars were those of instructor and then director at the Artillery School of Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He was commanding officer of the Ninth Observation Group at Mitchel Field in 1938, and when the Army took over the air mail he was named Chief Instructor.

The next year he was placed on the War Department General Staff and assigned to the War Plans Division.  Later he became Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, at Langley Field.  He was in command of Moffett Field, California, 1938-39; air officer of the Puerto Rico Department, 1939-40.

General Bradley held the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre with palm and bronze star.

The great value to the Allies of General Bradley’s mission to Russia in 1941 was not known to the general public until May 1944 when the Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to the General with a citations stating that the success of his mission has “insured an expeditious supply of desperately needed air equipment to the Soviet Union, which was a major factor in the rapid increase of the air strength of the U.S.S.R. at a critical time,” when submarines were taking heavy toll of planes shipped by water routes.

It was disclosed also that for two years lend-lease planes had been flown from this country to Russia by Red Army pilots over a northern air route established by agreement with the Soviet Government.

A former president of the Wings Club, he also belonged to the Meadowbrook Club and the Garden City Golf Club and Army and Navy Country Club of Washington.

He leaves his second wife, who was Hester Henderson Foster at their marriage in 1927; two daughters of his first marriage to the late Katherine Rising – Mrs. Frederick Savage, Jr., and Mrs. M. E. Sorte, and a sister, Mrs. Frank Fitt of Detroit.




World War II liberated Tom Watson Jr. from his demons. His success in promoting the use of flight simulators earned him a job as aide and pilot for Major General Follett Bradley, the Army Air Forces' inspector general.

Watson flew throughout Asia, Africa and the Pacific, displaying steel nerves and shrewd foresight and planning skills. He was set to fly for United Air Lines after the war when a chance conversation with Bradley changed his course. Informed of Watson's job plans, the general said, “Really? I always thought you'd go back and run the IBM company.” A stunned Watson asked Bradley if he really thought his former aide up to the job. The general replied, “Of course.”

The Army Air Forces, soon to be the United States Air Force, generally followed the steps taken by the Army, while Generals James H. Doolittle and Follett Bradley called for the total abolishment of racial segregation.

Katherine Rising Bradley, the first wife of Follett Bradley.  Born in 1892.  Died 10 December 1926.

Hester Foster Bradley, the second wife of Follett Bradley.  Born 29 November 1899. Died 6 September 1968.

Follett Bradley Jr., First Lieutenant, United States Army Air Corps.  Born 1916 and died 1941.

All buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 1, Grave 196-A.






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