William Horace Bruce Erwin – Brigadier General, United States Air Force


From a contemporary press report:

W.H. Bruce Erwin, 83, a retired Air Force Brigadier General who flew combat missions in World War II, died of cancer February 2, 1999 at Vencor Hospital.

General Erwin, who lived in Arlington, served 27 years in the military, beginning with the Army Air Corps in 1941. He was commissioned brigadier general in 1966 and subsequently served as secretary of the international staff of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and executive to Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

He retired from the military in 1968 and worked about 10 years for the Institute for Defense Analysis as department head of the social studies division.

He was born in Chicago. He graduated from Park College in Parkville, Missouri, and received a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University.

During World War II, he piloted fighters in 35 combat missions in the South Pacific and served as an instructor pilot of the B-17. His post-World War II assignments included faculty positions at the Air War College and Air Force planner with the intelligence branch of the 3rd Air Force in Britain.

His wife, Gloria Wiles Erwin, died in 1986.

Survivors include two sons, Michael MacKuen of Chapel Hill, N.C., and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Douglas L. Erwin of Colorado Springs; and a granddaughter.

ERWIN, W. H. BRUCE, Brig. Gen., USAF (Ret.)

On January 17, 1999, of Arlington, VA, beloved husband of the late Gloria Wiles; loving father of Michael B. MacKuen and Douglas L. Erwin; devoted grandfather of Courtney MacKuen. Friends are invited to attend a memorial service 1 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2, 1999, in the Ft. Myer Chapel. Inurnment to follow Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.


Courtesy of the United States Air Force

Retired March 1, 1968

Brigadier General William Horace Bruce Erwin is executive to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, located near Casteau, Belgium. He is responsible for the organization, direction and
functioning of the SACEUR's office and immediate staff.

General Erwin was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1915. He graduated from John Brown High School, Siloam Springs, Arkansas, in 1932 and received a bachelor of arts degree in music from Park College, Parkville, Mo. He also has a master's degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Upon completion of aviation cadet training at Kelly Field, Texas, he received his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps in 1941.

General Erwin next served as a fighter pilot at Hamilton Field, Calif., in Australia, the Netherlands East Indies, New Caledonia and New Hebrides until March 1943. Upon return to the United States, he was assigned as squadron operations officer, section commander and assistant director of training in units of the Second Air Force at Rapid City, South Dakota, Peterson Field, Colorado, and Mountain Home Army Air Field, Idaho. General Erwin then attended Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and in April 1945 returned to Mountain Home where he served again as assistant director of training and later as supervisor of flying training. In December 1945 he became base adjutant of the 423d Army Air Forces Base Unit, Walla Walla, Washington.

In August 1946 General Erwin was transferred to Neubiberg, Germany, where he served as operations officer and later as director of training with the 357th Fighter Group. In November 1947 he was assigned to the U.S. Forces in Austria and served as executive officer of the Air Section, chief of the Air Division and chief, Civil Affairs Branch, Air Force Section. Returning to the United States in June 1950, he attended the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

In January 1951, General Erwin was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he served as chief, Protocol Section, Foreign Liaison Branch; and staff planning officer and politico-military affairs officer, in the International Branch of the Director of Plans, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations. Following this assignment, he attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and after graduation in 1954 remained as a member of the faculty.

General Erwin was transferred to England in September 1958 and served as deputy chief of staff, intelligence for the Third Air Force. In September 1961 he returned to the United States and was assigned as deputy assistant director of plans for National Security Council Matters, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He held this position until July 1963 when he became special assistant, Joint Matters, Office of the Director of the Joint Staff, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C.

In August 1966 the general was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Paris, France, as secretary of the staff. He assumed his present duties as executive to the supreme allied commander Europe, Casteau, Belgium, in July 1967.

General Erwin in a command pilot, qualified in both jet and conventional aircraft. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Distinguished Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster.

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