Harold C. Stuart Oral History Interview

Oral History Interview with
Harold C. Stuart

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Civil Affairs, 1949-1951

Tulsa, Oklahoma
August 28, 1978
by Charles J. Gross

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened October, 1983
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]

Oral History Interview with
Harold C. Stuart

Tulsa, Oklahoma
August 28, 1978
by Charles J. Gross




CIVIL AFFAIRS, 1949-1951


DATE: 28 August 1978
LOCATION: Tulsa, Oklahoma


6 October 1983


At the conclusion of our discussions on 28 August 1978, Harold C. Stuart orally granted me permission to use this interview however I saw fit. Subsequent efforts to obtain his written permission to use the interview have not been responded to. Because of the great value of the interview and Mr. Stuart's oral permission to use it, I have prepared this transcript for inclusion in the Air Force's oral history collection.

AFSC Office of History






Harold C. Stuart, attorney and business executive, served as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Civil Affairs from October 28, 1949 to May 25, 1951. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on July 4, 1912. Stuart graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1936, and was admitted to the Oklahoma bar that same year. Following service as a judge in Tulsa, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces in August 1942. His active duty included assignments as an intelligence officer with the 497th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Headquarters Ninth Air Force in Europe, and the SHAEF mission to Norway. After he left active duty in February 1946, he remained in the Air Force Reserve.

In addition to his service as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Stuart actively participated in a variety of civic and business affairs following World War II. His Air Force related activities included being president of the Air Force Association, 1951 1952, and special consultant to the Secretary of the Air Force, 1961 1963. Mr. Stuart also served as chairman of the board of the Air Force Academy Foundation. His extensive business ties included the board chairmanship of the Southwestern Sales Corporation as well as directorships of such firms as Getty Oil, and the First National Bank and Trust Company of Tulsa.

This interview was one of several that I completed in connection with a dissertation on the Air National Guard's history while a doctoral candidate at Ohio State University. The interview took place on 28 August 1978 in Mr. Stuart's office in Tulsa.

I am deeply indebted to the members of the DCS/Logistics Management Systems Word Processing Center at HQ AFLC who transcribed the interview and Ms. Elizabeth A. Maness of the Office of History at HQ AFSC who typed the final draft.

AFSC Office of History



Harold C. Stuart Interview

Appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force

Air Force Association

Organizing air reserve programs

Initial problems with the Air Guard

Maj. Gen. Earl Ricks appointed head of the Air Guard

Air Guard given the best equipment
Civil Air Patrol problems

Stuart’s relationships with top Air Force leaders

Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington

ROTC and the need for a college-educated Air Force officers
Air Force Academy site selection
Housing badly needed at air bases after World War II

Frank McCoy appointed as Stuart’s deputy for Reserve and Guard matters

Capabilities of Air Guard and Air Force Reserve units prior to the Korean War

No real state role for the Air Guard

Air Force had inadequate control of Air Guard units in peacetime

Air Force leaders

Air Guard leaders

Korean War mobilization

1961 Berlin mobilization
Secretary of the Air Force Gene Zuckert
1961 Berlin mobilization
Korean War mobilization

Mobilized Air Guard units strengthened with Air Force reservists and regulars

The Air Force convened the Bob Smith Board in 1951 to develop a long range air reserve forces plan

Influence of politics on promotions

The emphasis placed on reserve programs is conditioned by the availability of money
Many reservists remained on active duty

Missile programs

Pressures by Secretary of Defense Johnson to cut military budgets

Korean War bombing strategy

Little attention given during Korean War to planning the postwar Air Guard

Contributions of General Earl Ricks

The Miltonberger Board and reorganization of the National Guard Bureau

Impact of the draft on the Air Guard

Reserve training programs were inadequate

Influence of powerful Air Guard political lobby limited by constraints on the defense budget

Mr. Stuart didn’t keep his reserve pay except expenses

Comparative abilities of Guard and active force personnel

Airline pilots in the reserves were reluctant to be recalled to active duty

Reserve promotions

All reserve programs of the armed services should be governed by the same law


MR. GROSS: Asked Mr. Stuart to recount the events that led to his being appointed Assistant Secretary of the Air Force in 1949.

MR. STUART: When I got out of the service in 1946, I joined the Air Force reserves, as part of the Air Force Reserve. I got out at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas coming back from Norway. I had served in Air Force intelligence and ended up head of the Operational Intelligence Section of the Ninth Air Force Advanced Headquarters in Europe. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, who was Commanding General, said he would release me. I wanted to get into the invasion of Norway. We thought they were going to remain in Norway and the Bavarian Alps, called the redoubt area, but they had plead surrender. But I was going up as head of Air Intelligence in Norway. So I went to Norway, and immediately after the surrender of the Germans with the SHAEF Mission Norway as A2 or intelligence of the Norwegian mission. I remained there until about December of 1945, came back and got out about March 1946.

I came back to Tulsa and started practicing law again in my old law firm. I was requested by a group of newspapers to return to Norway, Sweden and Finland and attempt to get some newsprint for them. I was successful in that venture and I was asked by General Donovan, who was head of the OSS, to go


back to Norway and set up with their underground in late 1948, early 1949, to set up a procedure for the protection of the Royal family and the Government of Norway in the case of an invasion. Coming back from that, after doing work in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, I was having lunch at the Pentagon with General Robert Landry and Lt Gen Elwood R. Quesada who was the Air Force ....Let's see what his title was. He was head of the reserves and the Air National Guard.

MR. GROSS: I think he was Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff or something like that.

MR. STUART: ….For Reserves and Guard and ROTC. Maj Gen Robert Landry, who was the first Air Force aide to a President President Harry Truman. We were having lunch on a Saturday after I had been debriefed by the OSS group for about a week and there was in the Secretary's dining room at the Pentagon was General Vandenberg having lunch with Secretary Symington. I visited with General Vandenberg, who had been my Commanding General in the Ninth Air Force, and with whom I had a close relationship. I visited also with Secretary Stuart Symington, who was then Secretary of the Air Force. That was on a Saturday afternoon. I'd been gone about six or eight weeks in the Scandinavian countries. I returned home to Tulsa Saturday evening.

Early Sunday morning I received a call from Secretary Symington asking me to return to Washington. He wanted to discuss with me my selection and appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Reserve Affairs and civil


aviation and the other Assistant Secretary with various responsibilities. After some thought and conversation with my wife, I did return and met him the next day, Monday. After a short conversatio