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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot , CT-532000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.




Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.


http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link.


Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.


Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing.


Clover Field: The First Century of Aviation in the Golden State. With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great.


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William Tunner, Date Unknown (Source: findagrave.com)
William Tunner, Date Unknown (Source: findagrave.com)


William Tunner was born July 14, 1906 in Elizabeth, NY. Portrait, right, is from findagrave.com and was undated. The 1910 U.S. Census documented him living in New Jersey with his parents, to brothers and a sister, all older than he. He was a first generation American: his father was born in Austria.

He graduated from West Point with the Class of 1928. The 1930 Census placed him living in Coronado, CA at 801 3rd Street with his new wife, Margaret. They were both age 23. His occupation was coded as lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Lt. William Tunner landed at Tucson twice, each time flying military aircraft. On Friday, December 19.1930 at 11:30AM he landed carrying one Chuck Stone as his sole passenger. They arrived in a Douglas aircraft that Tunner identified as a model O-2M, number "606." According to Joe Baugher's site, the only logical identification number for the airplane was 29-606, identified as a Douglas O-22. They arrived from San Diego, CA Rockwell Field and listed their destination as El Paso, TX.

His second, more noteworthy visit, was about six months later on Monday, May 11, 1931. He flew an unidentified Curtiss B-2 Condor Bomber. He listed no passenger number or departure point, but his destination was Dayton, OH. He noted in the remarks column of the Register, "In on May 11th 1931, Enroute to Dayton, Ohio for Air Corps Exercises."

At least two dozen other aircraft, including eleven Condor bombers, landed on the same day near the same time.These exercises were a big deal in 1931, considering the fact they were executed by a military air force that was barely two decades old, and they demanded hundreds of officers and men perform coordinated flights across the continent with 663 aircraft of several types. The Aircraft Yearbook for 1932 documented these exercises on page 74, below.

Aircraft Yearbook, 1932 (Source: Webmaster)
Aircraft Yearbook, 1932 (Source: Webmaster)

A typical exercise was illustrated on page 71, below, by a dramatic photograph taken over Boston, MA.

Aircraft Yearbook, 1932 (Source: Webmaster)
Aircraft Yearbook, 1932 (Source: Webmaster)

The final results of the maneuvers were summarized as follow from page 76. He participated at the age of 25.

Aircraft Yearbook, 1932 (Source: Webmaster)
Aircraft Yearbook, 1932 (Source: Webmaster)


William Tunner, Ca. 1930s (Source: NASM)
William Tunner, Ca. 1930s (Source: NASM)



Tunner looked like his photograph at left during the Air Corps Exercises in 1931.

During the 1930s, he served with various units of the Army Air Corps. In 1939, he was assigned to the Military Personnel Division, Chief of the Air Corps. When General Robert Olds (not a Register signer) was given the job of organizing the Ferrying Command, Tunner, then a Major, joined the staff as personnel officer.

The Ferrying Command was renamed the Air Transport Command (ATC) and Tunner became commander of the Ferrying Division. At that time the division was ferrying, from factory to user, 10,000 new aircraft monthly, including over-ocean deliveries.

Early in WWII, Tunner was tasked with managing the expanding airborne ferry command for distributing military people, equipment and supplies around the globe. A book entitled "When You Get a Job To Do, Do It" (PDF 1Mb) outlined his leadership style and achievements.




Uniontown Morning Herald (PA), April 25, 1944 (Source: newspapers.com)
Uniontown Morning Herald (PA), April 25, 1944 (Source: newspapers.com)


His innovations included recruiting women to ferry aircraft within the United States. Under his command was the Women's Auxilliary Ferrying Service (WAFS) headed by Register pilot Nancy Harkness Love. More information about his relation with the WAFS is on page 34 of his 1964 book, entitled "Over the Hump" (PDF 5Mb).

Some of his activities during and just after WWII with the ATC were summarized in a news articles in the Uniontown Morning Herald (PA), April 25, 1944, right, and the Madera Tribune (CA), March 11, 1948, below.



Madera Tribune (CA), March 11, 1948 (Source: newspapers.com)
Madera Tribune (CA), March 11, 1948 (Source: newspapers.com)










During WWII he supervised the airlift of supplies and people to China during the "Hump" airlift. His crews delivered 71,000 tons of material. He was considered the best authority on airlift operations.

After WWII, the Air Transport Command and its sister service in the Navy, the Naval Air Transport Service, merged and became the Military Air Transport Service. General Tunner was named commander of the Atlantic Division with headquarters at Westover Air Force Base, MA. The new organization was launched officially on June 1, 1948. Three weeks later, on June 21, the Russians blockaded Berlin and the Berlin Airlift was under way.

He leveraged his WWII experiences during the Berlin Airlift, and again in Korea, earning the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts. He retired in 1960 as a Lieutenant General.

As of the upload date of this page, Tunner has about 7,000 Google hits. Tunner retired from the military May 1960. He enjoyed a long retirement and flew West April 6, 1983. He was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. The Arlington Web site, in part, says this about Tunner, below. It is a concise summary of his career, awards and recognition.

In the seventy-seven years of his life, Lieutenant General William H. Tunner was the most outstanding authority on airlift operations of the United States Air Force.

He was born on July 14, 1906 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and died on April 6, 1983 in Ware Neck, Virginia.  Tunner was buried with high honors at Arlington National Cemetery.He was married twice, first to Sarah Margaret Sams of Meridian, Mississippi.  They had two sons, William S. And Joseph C. Tunner.  After his first wife died, he married Ann Hamilton of Enid, Oklahoma, who gave birth to his daughter, Suzanne.

After completing High School, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in June 1928 with a commission as a second lieutenant.  In 1929 he graduated from the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field in Texas.  Between 1929 and 1960, when he retired, he not only earned several medals, but was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.

In the 1930's and early 1940's he served various tactical and training units, and in 1941 he was assigned to help General Robert Olds organize the Ferrying Command.  By now, war was raging in Europe and the Pacific.  As a result, the Air Corps began reorganizing the Ferrying Command to reflect the ever-increasing role it would play.  In July 1942, the name "Ferrying Command" was changed to Air Transport Command.  General Tunner, by now a Colonel, was made Commanding Officer of the Ferrying Division.  At that time, this division was ferrying 10,000 aircraft monthly to the Allied Forces, which was of vital importance in the early days of World War II.

In September 1944 he was called to the China-Burma-India Theater to command the India-China division of the Air Transport Command.  There he supervised the airlift of supplies and people to China, and it was in China that he showed his exceptional organizational ability to direct a successful airlift with efficiency and safety.  This was the legendary "Hump" airlift, so named because the airplanes had to clear the 16,000-foot-high Himalaya Mountains.  And even though all air traffic had to be channeled over this enormously high range, Tunner and his crews delivered 71,000 tons of material to China, far beyond what had ever been carried by air before.  In OVER THE HUMP, published in 1964, he told of his experiences in this operation. The Hump airlift was the first large strategic airlift, it would be the foundation for future airlifts, like the immensely successful, almost unbelievable, Berlin Airlift.

On June 21, 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded all approaches by land and sea to Berlin.  The Russians had tried to call the shots in Berlin, but the Americans fought back with a miracle, the supplying of the world's fifth largest city, 2.5 million people (plus 6000 occupation troops), by air alone.  General Tunner became the obvious choice to direct such a large-scale operation. Sheer insanity on the face of it, one would think.  From all over the world, veteran Air Force personnel had been jerked from their peacetime homes and were now flying endlessly through three 20-mile-wide air corridors, which were the only means of access.  The immensity and the danger of the mission should never be forgotten.  In the heavy-laden and slow cargo planes, the pilots would have been clay pigeons for Russian fighter aircraft if Moscow had chosen to block the air lanes, too.  Day after day the planes kept coming.  The runways were repaired.  A third airport (Tegel) was built.  The crews were rotated.  The planes refurbished and augmented.  And the tonnage crept upward and upward, reaching the 4,000-daily minimum, then exceeding it, and eventually, in the spring of 1949, reaching the old pre-blockade level.  There were bad weather periods, and hard weeks, and frightening moments, but the personnel and General Tunner continued to perform and enlarge upon the miracle, which was lovingly known as "Operation Vittles".  Because of the masterful direction by General Tunner and his crews, the airlift was succeeding far beyond all calculations.  By May 1949 the battle was finally over and won.  Once again General Tunner had set new records for tons of food, material and coal into Berlin, and flying a total of 124.5 million miles.  He had also proven that great bodies of troops, or great numbers of civilians, could be sustained by air transport alone.

General Tunner repeated this performance during the Korean War as well.  For that airlift operation, he received on the spot Distinguished Service Cross from General Douglas MacArthur.

On July 27, 1953, by now Major General Tunner returned to Wiesbaden, Germany, as commander in chief of United States Air Forces in Europe and received a promotion to Lieutenant General.

When Lieutenant General Tunner retired from the Service May 31, 1960, he had successfully organized and commanded the three largest airlift operations up to that time.

In his distinguished career he received the following medals and awards:

Distinguished Service Cross 
Distinguished Service Medal, four times
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal
Grand Knight Order of Merit of Italian Republic
Military Merit Taekuk Medal with Silver Star ( Korea )
Honorary Companion of Military division of Order of the Bath (Britain)
Chinese Order of Pao Ting (Tripod) (Special Cravat),
Young Fui and Honorary wings of Chinese Air Force
Honorary Doctor of Military Sciences Degree, University of Maryland

In addition, he received:

Knight-Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Signed by the president of the Federal Republic of German: Karl Carstens, above medal and award was presented to him in Washington D.C. at the German Embassy by the German Ambassador to the United States on January 5, 1982. He also received the Americanism Award from the China-Burma-India Veterans Association on January 22, 1982.


Air Force Times, May 24,1982 (Source: NASM)
Air Force Times, May 24,1982 (Source: NASM)


An article appeared in the Air Force Times, May 24,1982 that featured his receiving the Knight-Commander's Cross from the government of Germany, left. After this award, he had about eleven months to live. His grave marker is below.






W.H. Tunner Grave Marker (Source: findagrave.com)
W.H. Tunner Grave Marker (Source: findagrave.com)




His death certificate is below. He died of a heart attack at age 76.



William Tunner, Death Certificate, April 8, 1983 (Source: ancestry.com)
William Tunner, Death Certificate, April 8, 1983 (Source: ancestry.com)


Dossier 2.2.8



The Register


I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Tunner and his airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.


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