Born March 13, 1886 in Belfast Maine. Died March 26, 1949 in Redwood City, CA
Experienced Army "flyer" with a particular interest in photography
1917 Stevens enlisted as a Private in the aviation section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps
Trained at Cornell University
First Lieutenant - Sent to France with the photographic section of the 88th Observation Squadron
Cited twice for his dangerous work in photographing enemy positions
1919 he returned to the United States and assisted in making the first large photomosaic map for the Army Air Service and the Geological Survey
June 12, 1922 he was in a Martin bomber when it established a new three-passenger altitude record of 24,306 feet. That same flight hemade a record high altitude parachute jump from 24,200 feet.
August 1932, accompanied by Lt. Charles D. McAllister of the Army Air Corps, Stevens took the first photograph of the Moon's shadow projected onto Earth during a solar eclipse
1933 the stratospheric balloon flight was the idea and hard work of Major Albert W. Stevens, Chief of the Army Air Corps' Photography Laboratory at Wright Field, OH. He enlisted the United States Army Air Corps and The National Geographic Society to jointly explore the stratosphere (which begins at 50,000 feet).
July 28, 1934 the Explorer attempted a stratospheric balloon flight. This balloon reached the altitude of 60,000 before it ruptured and eventually burst, forcing Stevens, Orville A. Anderson, and William A. Kepner to safely parachute from the free-falling aircraft.
July 12, 1935 the Explorer II attempted a stratospheric balloon flight, but the envelope tore on inflation and the flight was scrubbed.
November 11, 1935, the third attempt at reaching the stratosphere was succeeded by Stevens and Anderson. A height of 72,395 was achieved and both Stevens and Anderson received the Hubbard Medal for scientific achievement.
1937 Albert W. Stevens took the first photograph of the globular corona of the sun during an eclipse over the Peruvian Andes
He headed the photographic department of the Air Corps Technical School, at Lowry Field, near Denver, until his medical retirement at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1942
He was the Director of the Army Aeronautical Museum, now the National Museum of the United States Air Force
To honor his historical expedition, an elementary school in his home town was named "Captain Albert W. Stevens School" and serves grades PK-5 in the MSAD 34 district in Belfast, Maine
1918 Orville A. Anderson graduated from the Army Balloon School and became an early pioneer of balloon and airship flight.
1926 he served as pilot and navigator of the first continental airship flight
1934 Brigadier General Oscar Westover, Assistant Chief of the Army Air Corps assigned Captain Orville A. Anderson as alternate pilot and operations officer for the Explorer mission.
July 28, 1934 Major William E. Kepner and Captains Albert W. Stevens and Orville A. Anderson reached 60,613 feet in altitude in Explorer, a 3,000,000 cubic foot hydrogen-filled balloon. During the flight financed by The National Geographic Society and supported by the United States Army Air Corps, the balloon exploded and the three men parachuted to safety. All received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
November 11, 1935 Anderson and Stevens flew Explorer II, a 3,700,000 cubic foot helium-filled balloon from the Stratobowl outside of Rapid City, SD to 72,395 feet. They gathered scientific data on the upper atmosphere and earned The National Geographic Society's Hubbard Gold Medal.
During WWII he was a member of the 12th Armored Division 495th Armed Forces Artillery Battalion based in Morton Mills, IA
During WWII he served in Washington and Europe to become Deputy Commander of the 8th Air Force and U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, European Theater of Operations
After WWII he became the first Commandant of the Air War College
1950 Major General Orville A. Anderson retired from the U.S. Air Force
After retirement he became the Director of the U.S. Historical Foundation
He also served as Secretary of the ACB
1996, Anderson was one of the original 13 inductees in the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame at the Hill Aerospace Museum under current Administrator Rear Admiral Jeremy Taylor, USN (Retired)
May 21, 2004 he was a speaker at Ohio State University on the "Air Power in the Cold War" chaired by Thomas Hughes, School of Advanced Airpower Studies. His talk was titled "Pre-Emptive War and the Idea of the Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike 1947-1953"
Orville Anderson received the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, and Air Medal, as well as decoration from France, Belgium, and Great Belgium.
His pioneering flights brought him the Harmon Award, the McKay Trophy, and the Hubbard Medal for scientific achievement accomplished during the stratospheric balloon program.
1916 he became Second Lieutenant in the Indiana National Guard.
1917 Kepner served with the 28th Infantry on the Mexican Border and was commission in the Cavalry. In August, he transferred to the infantry with rank of Captain.
October 1920, Kepner was a 27 year old Captain when he entered the Air Service. He was outstanding in balloons, qualifying as Balloon Observer and Dirigible Pilot after attending many service schools including Ross Field, CA an Langley Field, VA.
1925 he completed the Naval Ground Course at Lakehurst, NJ.
1927 -1929 he commanded several airship school detachments and flew in four national and international balloon races.
1928 Kepner placed First in both the National Elimination Balloon Race and won the James Gordon Bennett trophy for distance covered in a balloon. He finished third and second in similar events at Akron, OH and St. Louis, MO.
October 1930, Kepner was promoted to Major, went to Wright Field as Chief of the Material Division's Lighter-than-Air Branch.
1931-32 he learned to fly conventional aircraft at March Field, CA and Kelly Field, TX. Then went back to Wright Field as Chief of the Purchase Branch and entered more balloon races.
In 1934, Brigadier General Oscar Westover, Assistant Chief of the Army Air Corps, assigned Major William E. Kepner as pilot and commanding officer of the Explorer mission.
July 28, 1934 Explorer balloon launched from the Stratobowl near Rapid City, South Dakota. The balloon failed at 60,613 feet. Kepner, Anderson, and Stevens parachuted to safety as the balloon exploded and crash landed in a corn field in Nebraska
After his attempt to a stratospheric flight with Stevens and Anderson, he took the course at Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, AL and then escorted Major Ira C. Eaker in an experimental all-instrumental fight of 2,600 miles across the U.S.
June 1937, graduated from Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, KA and went to Langley Field as Commanding Officer of the Pursuit Group.
1938 he commanded all defense aviation during the Fort Bragg Maneuvers
June 1939 he advanced to Lieutenant Colonel
February 1940 Kepner went to Mitchell Field, NY as Executive Officer of the Air Defense Command and was promoted to Colonel
Fall 1941 he commanded the 1st Air Support Command during the Caroline Maneuvers and commanded all aviation under the First Army.
February 1942, Kepner was promoted to Brigadier General, Commanding General of the 4th Fighter Command and then the 4th Air Force in San Francisco.
April 1943, he was promoted to Major General
August 29, 1943 Major General William E. Kepner succeeds Major General Frank O. Hunter as Commanding General 8th Air Force 353rd Fighter Group Command in the European Theatre. As escorts for the strategic bombers, the fighter plans under him provided protection and also bombed and strafed the enemy, equipment and communications. During and following the Normandy Invasion, the 8th fighters established a circular protective screen around the beachhead to prevent German counterattacks. His service and leadership of the 8th Fighter Command was a key factor in the WWII destruction of the German Air Force.
August 3, 1944, he became Commanding General 350th Fighter Squadron, 2nd Bomb Division, European Theater of Operations. He then transfer from Goxhill to Metfield, England with P-47's; the squadron will flew it's first mission on August 9 - April 44, 1945
May 10, 1945 Major General William E. Kepner G.I.s became Commanding General to the 9th Air Force and was the 8th AAF Commander.
During World War II (WWII) Major General William E. Kepner personally flew 24 combat missions in fighter and bomber planes, earned the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, 3 Legions of Merit, Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, and decorations from Great Britain, Belgium, France, Poland, and China. He lead the 4th Infantry's 3rd Battalion in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, participated in the Aisne, Champagne, Marne, and St. Mihel combat actions, and commanded a company at Chateau-Thiery.
January 1946 he took over the 12th Tactical Air Command, then returned to Headquarters Army Air Force, Washington for duty with Joint Task Force 1 as Deputy Commander for Army and Navy Aviation with Operation Crossroads in the Marshall Island in the Pacific.
June 1946 he became Commanding General of Air Technical Training Command at Scott Field, IL and went back to headquarters US Air Force as Chief of its Atomic Energy Division
July 1948 he served as Chief of the Special Weapons Group and was named Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations for Atomic Energy
August 1948 Kepner became Commanding General of Air Force Proving Ground at Eglin Air Force Base, FL
June 15, 1950 Kepner was promoted to Lieutenant General and named Commander in Chief of the Alaska Command headquartered in Fort Richardson
Feb 28, 1953 Kepner retired from active duty, the holder of six ratings: Command Pilot, Combat Observer, Senior Balloon Pilot, Zeppelin Pilot, Semirigid Pilot and Metal-clad Airship Pilot.