Stanley Joseph Donovan – Lieutenant General, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report:

Stanley J. “Moose” Donovan, 91, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who had maintained a home in the Washington area since 1976, died of cardiac arrest October 23, 2001, at his home in the District.

General Donovan, a decorated combat veteran of World War II, was Tactical Air Command operations chief at Langley Air Force Base during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. In 1963, he was sent to Spain as a major general, and he took command of the 16th Air Force there in 1966.

That was the year an Air Force B-52 “Stratofortress” bomber jettisoned four hydrogen bombs after a midair collision with its refueling aircraft. Three bombs were quickly recovered, but it took 80 days to retrieve the bomb that fell into the sea off the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

General Donovan was in charge of the successful recovery operations. Despite assurances that no radiation had escaped into the sea, Spanish citizens and other observers expressed worry about contamination. In a memorable operation to put these fears to rest, the general and his son, along with Angier Biddle Duke, U.S. ambassador to Spain, and his son, joined a Spanish Cabinet minister and his son in a brisk March frolic in the sea near the site of the bomb's disappearance.

In 1967, Gen. Donovan received his third star and went to Ankara, Turkey, as U.S. permanent military deputy to the Central Treaty Organization. He held that post until retiring from active duty in 1969. After that, he divided his time between Washington and Madrid.

Gen. Donovan, who was born in Portland, Maine, was a 1934 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and received his wings in 1936. Before World War II, he served in the Philippines.

He was serving in Washington when the war began, and he later went to Britain as a member of the staff of General Jimmy Doolittle, who was organizing the 12th Air Force that took part in the North African invasion.

Gen. Donovan led a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomb group on 37 wartime missions from its base in Algiers. He ended the war on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington.

After the war, he served as air attache in Argentina and commanded a Strategic Air Command air division at Travis Air Force Base in California before his promotion to brigadier general in 1954. He then went to Spain as deputy chief of the Joint U.S.
Military Affairs Group. In 1958, he received his second star as a major general and became chief of the group.

Gen. Donovan's decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

He was a member of the Army & Navy Club and DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired).

Survivors include his wife, the former Margaret Roblee, whom he married in 1943 and who lives in Washington; three children, Sheila Donovan Hayes of Washington and Diana Donovan de del Campo and Eric Donovan, both of Madrid; and five grandchildren.

Courtesy of the United States Air Force


Retired August 1, 1969

Lieutenant General Stanley Joseph Donovan was U.S. representative, Permanent Military Deputies Group, Central Treaty Organization, Turkey.

General Donovan was born in Portland, Maine, in 1910. Following graduation from high school he attended Stanton Preparatory Academy in New York and entered the U.S. Military Academy, from which he graduated 1934 as a second lieutenant.

In September 1934, he entered pilot training receiving his wings at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, in 1936. He was transferred to the Air Corps and assigned to the 28th Bomb Squadron at Nichols Field, Philippine Islands.

Upon his return to the United States he was assigned as assistant district supervisor of Air Corps Flying Schools, Central District, East St. Louis, Missouri, and in 1940 became the commanding officer of Primary Flying School, Carlstrom Field, Florida. In 1941, he moved to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps in Washington, where he served as assistant chief of the Flying Training Section in the Operations and Training Division.

In August 1942 he was assigned to the 12th Bombardment Command in England with duty as A-2 and in December of that year assumed command of the 97th Bombardment Group in the North African Theater, where he flew 37 combat missions in B-17 aircraft.

Transferred in October 1943 to the War Department General Staff in the Strategy Section, he remained there two years before moving to South America as assistant air attaché in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

General Donovan returned to Air Force Headquarters in Washington following this tour, where he assumed duties in November 1948 as Assistant and Acting Chief of the War Plans Division, Office of the Director of Plans. In 1952 he transferred to Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, as Chief of Staff, 21st Air Division. He assumed command of the 40th Bombardment Wing at Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas, in December 1952, and in April 1953 moved to command the 14th Air Division, Travis Air Force Base, California.

Promoted to brigadier general in June 1953, General Donovan attended the General Officers' Air Force Manpower and Management Course at The George Washington University in November of that year.

General Donovan began his duty in Spain in August 1955 when he was assigned to the Joint United States Military Group as deputy chief of military mission with dual responsibility as deputy commander, Sixteenth Air Force. In March 1958 he assumed dual command as chief, JUSMG, and chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Spain.

From August 1960 to June 1963, General Donovan was assigned to Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, as deputy for operations.

In June 1966, General Donovan returned to Spain as chief, JUSMG and of MAAG, and later assumed command of the Sixteenth Air Force as an added responsibility. In September 1966, he relinquished his assignment as chief of JUSMG and MAAG and remained as commander of the Sixteenth Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters and the Army Commendation Medal.


On October 23, 2001 of Washington, DC. Beloved husband of Margaret Roblee Donovan; father of Diana, Sheila and Eric. Also survived by his grandchildren, Patricia, Ricardo, Jaime and Maria del Campo and Michelle Donovan. Mass of Christian Burial, Fort Myer Chapel, Wednesday, November 21, 12:45 p.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Washington, 3720 Upton St., N.W., Washington, DC 20016. Friends will meet at Memorial Gate by 12 Noon for procession to chapel.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 06/12/1934 – 07/31/1969
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/05/1910
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/23/2001
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/21/2001

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