Colonel Joseph A. Cunningham, 205A, former Chief of the Western Hemisphere Branch, War Plans Division, Directorate of Plans, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations at Hq. U.S.A.F., assumed command of the 317th Troop Carrier Wing on September 9, 1954 after his arrival here two days earlier.


A native of Clarksburg, W.Va., Colonel Cunningham attended West Virginia University and graduated with an AB Degree in Economics in 1938.  His military career began at the Air Force Flying School at Randolph and Kelly Fields where he graduated with a commission and pilot wings in May 1939.


Serving with the 17th Bomb Group at various stations on the west coast as operations officer and later squadron commander, on his first assignment, Colonel Cunningham participated in anti-submarine patrol activity with the group.  He later became group operations officer for the B-26 equipped 319th Bomb Group of the 12th Air Force and departed to England in September 1942 with the unit.  He served as deputy group commander and group commander of the 319th during its participation in the invasion of Africa and through the Tunisian campaign.  He flew in several early, low-level missions against airfields in Tunis and shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.


He was then assigned as Deputy Assistant and Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations with the 12th Fighter Command, the American component of the Coastal Air Command.  It was during this period that he was awarded the Air Medal for earlier duty with the 319th Group and made an honorary pilot in the French Air Force for his work with the French squadrons while with the 12th Fighter Command.


In October 1944, he returned to the U.S. and became deputy base commander at Greenville, S.C., until April 1945.  He was base commander for more than 15 months at Morris Field, N.C., and Moody Field, Ga.  Both were combat crew training school bases.


Colonel Cunningham attended the first regular course of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1946 and transferred to the Department of the Air Force in September 1947.  It was then that he assumed duties as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff and later Deputy Chief of Staff, A-3, for 11th Air Force at Harrisburg, Pa., until 1948.


From July 1948 until July 1950 he served with the Director of Operations, Hq. Air Defense Command at Mitchell A.F.B., N.Y., where he was Assistant Director of Air Defense, Chief of Current Operations, and Director of Combat Operations.  The latter two positions were with the newly created Eastern Air Defense Command.


The armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, was the next assignment for the Wing Commander, and jupon completion of the course there, he was transferred to the Air Plans Division at Hq. U.S.A.F. as a staff planning officer from February 1951 until his arrival here.  In April 1952 he became Chief of the Western Hemisphere Branch of the Division.


In addition to the Air Medal, Colonel Cunningham has been awarded the Commendation Ribbon and several overseas campaign ribbons.


Bowling and golf are among the favourite sports Colonel Cunningham has engaged in since his university days.  He is a member of the national fraternity Delta Tau Delta.


Colonel Cunningham’s wife Mary and his three daughters, Jo Ann, age 12, Cathrine, age 9, and Patricia, 15 months, accompanied him to Neubiberg, and now reside at 2A Rosenheimer Landstrasse, Munich.



This bio was published in the yearbook for Neubiberg Air Base in 1956


For a later (1969) bio on Major General Cunningham click here.