Nathan Bedford Forrest III – Brigadier General, United States Army Air Force

Born at Memphis, Tennessee, April 7, 1905, the son of Nathan Bedford and Mattie Patterson (Patton) Forrest. He was a student at Georgia Tech, 1923-24 and graduated from West Point in 1928. He married Frances Brassler, November 22, 1930.

He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, 1928, and advanced through the ranks to Brigadier General in November 1942. He was serving as Chief of Staff of the Second Air Force when reported missing-in-action on a bombing mission over Kiel, Germany, on June 13 , 1943. He had lived at 115 West 9th Street, Spokane, Washington. He is buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Thanks to Russell P. Dodge II and historian-author Shelby Foote, I have learned that he was the only son of the only son of of the only son (grand grandson) of Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest. According to Mr. Foote, he had no children and his sister had two daughters. Therefore the line came to an end with his death in the skies over Germany!


United States Eighth Air Force General Nathan Bedford Forrest III was the great-grandson of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was killed in 1943 during a B-17 raid over the submarine yards of Kiel, Germany. He was regarded as one of the best and youngest Air Force Generals of his day. He was declared dead
and posthumously received the Distinguished Flying Cross. After World War II, his body was recovered from Germany and he was laid to rest in Arlington  National Cemetery – ironically on grounds once owned by his great-grandfather’s commanding

officer, General Robert E. Lee.

Nathan Bedford Forrest III: Born April, 5, 1905 at Waldran, near Poplar in Memphis, Tennessee. Family moved to Biloxi, Mississippi when he was 7 years old and later to Atlanta, Georgia.

He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on June 9, 1928 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Cavalry. In 1929 he
transferred from the Cavalry to the Air Corps.

He was promoted as follows:

February 4, 1934, First Lieutenant
June 16, 1938, Captain
January 31, 1941, Major
January 5, 1942, Lieutenant Colonel
March 1, 1942, Colonel
November 2, 1942, Brigadier General

He attained the rank of Brigadier General  at the age of 37, four years earlier than his famous Great Grandfather, Nathan Bedford Forrest attained the same rank.

He died June 13, 1942 which is the official date as recorded, killed in action. He was originally reported missing in action when his plane was shot down. His body was found September 23, 1943 when it was washed ashore at the Seaplane Base at Bug, Reugen Island, Germany. He was buried on September 28, 1943 in a grassy little cemetery near Wiek, Germany. As per copy of information in the Memphis newspaper it was reported in 1947 that the Generals former wife (now Mrs. Frances Martin of Spokane, Washington) has indicated that she will request that the body be returned to the United States and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The first American General to become a casualty in the attack on Germany in 1943 was Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest III. He was the great-grandson of Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest (Confederate States of America), and was carrying on the military tradition of his namesake, when the lead heavy bomber he was in went down off the coast of Germany. For some time, hope remained that he had survived, as members of the bomber squadron saw parachutes, and so he was listed as missing in action. A year later, the General was declared legally dead. Of the nine crewmen who were able to parachute out of the plane, all but one died in the water, and it was discovered that the general’s body had been washed ashore at Bug, Reugen Island, Germany. German records show that he was first buried on September 28, 1943, at Wiek, Germany.

Six years later, the general was reburied in Section 11 of Arlington National Cemetery. He was 38 years old at the time of his death and one of the youngest generals in the Army.

General Forrest III graduated from West Point in 1928. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Cavalry, he later transferred to the Air Force in 1929. He made a Brigadier General at 37 — four years younger than his famous great-grandfather.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/07/1905
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/13/1943
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/15/1949

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