LT. GENERAL ARNOLD W. BRASWELL
(3 star) U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General
Arnold Braswell taken in 1980
LIEUTENANT GENERAL ARNOLD W. BRASWELL
Biography of Lieutenant General Arnold W. Braswell
Arnold Braswell was born October 3, 1925 in Minden, LA, the first child of Claiborne and Marguerite Braswell. He grew up on the family cotton farm in the former sawmill community of Yellow Pine and later on the Braswell homestead south of Minden. He attended elementary school in Sibley and high school in Minden, graduating in the Class of 1942. He attended LSU for two years as an engineering student and stood high on the Dean's list both years.
About to enter the Navy in June of 1944, he received notice at the last minute that he had been accepted for admission to West Point, an appointment he had been seeking for three years. He entered on July 1, 1944. There he excelled in academics and in military studies, graduating number five in a class of 301. He played lacrosse on the junior varsity and sang in the Chapel Choir. In his final year he was appointed the "First Captain" and Cadet Brigade Commander, the senior cadet military position, in which he played a key role in raising the standards of leadership exercised within the Corps of Cadets.
Upon graduation he chose to be commissioned in the U.S. Air Force, which had been established as a separate military service in September, 1947. It was a natural choice for him; he had long been interested in aviation and wanted to become a military pilot. It turned out to be a choice he never regretted, though it turned out to be one with significant personal risks. He made another wise choice when, two weeks after graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Ione Davis, who was teaching girls physical education in the Minden school while waiting for her future husband to graduate. They then began a happy and adventurous life together as Arnold's Air Force assignments took them to many stateside locations and several foreign countries.
After completing his pilot training and receiving his pilot's wings in 1949 Arnold was assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing on Cape Cod, flying F-84 jet fighters and later F-86 Sabres. Life was pleasant there for the couple with their new son, Jefferson, but then the Korean War started. In July of 1951 Arnold was sent to the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing in Taegu, Korea, where he flew 97 combat missions in F-84 Thunderjets, most of them as a flight leader or squadron leader. While still a first lieutenant he was appointed as the operations officer of the Ninth Fighter Squadron, a position normally held by more senior officers. Then he transferred to the 4th Fighter Wing, stationed near Seoul, where he flew another 58 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre, flying fighter sweeps to keep the enemy MIG-15s away from our fighter-bombers.
Upon returning from Korea Arnold was assigned to the combat training wing at Luke Air Force Base, near Phoenix, where the family settled down for a pleasant stay of three years and Arnold served as an instructor, flight commander and squadron operations officer, training U.S. and European NATO pilots in gunnery, bombing and combat tactics. Then, in 1955, a month after daughter Sally was born, the family moved to Colorado, where Arnold was placed in charge of a cadet squadron at the newly-established Air Force Academy, temporarily located on Lowry Air Force base in Denver. It was an interesting and challenging assignment for Arnold and an enjoyable time for the family. They made many life-long friends during their three years there.
In the fall of 1958 Arnold was assigned to Etain Air Base in France, equipped with F-100 Super Sabres. After he found an apartment in Metz the family joined him, but they were there less than a year when his unit was moved to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, where Arnold, as a junior major, was appointed as a squadron commander, an important milestone in his career. Flying in the fog and rain of Central Europe was a challenge, but the family enjoyed the opportunity to see a bit of Europe before they moved back to the U.S. in 1961.
After attending the Air Force Command and Staff College Arnold was assigned to the war plans division of the Air Force staff in the Pentagon, a place he would come to know well. The family settled in Arlington in a house which became their home for all but one of the next eleven years. He quickly gained a reputation as a very able staff officer and a strategic thinker. His work involved analyzing U.S. and NATO war plans, developing recommendations, negotiating with officers of other services and briefing senior Air Force leaders on important strategic issues under consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After attending the National War College in Washington Arnold, newly promoted to colonel, served a year in Vietnam, believing that our cause was just but worried that our chosen defensive strategy might not succeed before the U.S. social fabric was torn apart. Assigned as Director of Plans in 7th Air Force Headquarters near Saigon, he voluntarily flew 40 combat missions in F-4 Phantom jets and other aircraft to stay in touch with the needs of operational units.
Back in the states he spent a fruitful and enjoyable year as Director of Operations of the 4th Fighter Wing, equipped with F-4s and at that time the only readily-deployable wing in Air Force. Then he was ordered back to the Air Staff to serve as one of two senior strategic planners responsible for negotiating with the Joint Staff and the other Services on issues being addressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (His colleague was Colonel Brent Scowcroft). Soon after his arrival he received a relatively early promotion to brigadier general and was put in charge of future force development plans for the Air Force.
In 1973, upon promotion to major general, he was assigned as the commander of U.S. Air Force units in Turkey, an 18-month tour of duty which both he and Ione found quite interesting. It occasionally was exciting; the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus occurred during their stay. Then Arnold was ordered to Belgium to serve as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations at SHAPE, the NATO military headquarters for Europe, where he spent three years working with staff colleagues from other NATO nations. In 1977 he was again called back to the Pentagon, this time in a three-star position on the Joint Staff as the Director of Plans and Policy. Though he found that job challenging and right up his alley, he was delighted after a year there to be assigned as Commander, Ninth Air Force, with headquarters at Shaw AFB, SC. It was an interesting command position and one in which he accomplished much, helping to bring all tactical wings in the eastern half of the country to much-improved levels of combat readiness. He also prepared the first air unit deployment plans for the Persian Gulf area.
His performance during his three years as Ninth Air Force Commander earned his appointment in 1981 as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Air Forces, with headquarters at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. He was responsible for all Air Force tactical wings in the Pacific theatre and for maintaining good relations with allied and friendly air forces throughout the region, including those in India and Pakistan. He was pleased that, upon his mandatory retirement as a lieutenant general in October, 1983, he left the command and its units better prepared and with higher morale than when he took over.
After his retirement Arnold and Ione moved back to the Washington area, where they had many good friends. Four months after arrival he was appointed as the President and Chief Staff Executive of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, a national association of the manufacturers of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, one of the most active and respected trade groups serving the needs of major industries for technical standards, product performance certification, scientific research, market statistics and government liaison. The job was interesting and he brought the Institute to new levels of achievement in several areas, including making it a global actor, initiating cooperative research programs and negotiating with environmental groups to agree on mandatory national efficiency standards for many appliances and then propose legislation for that purpose. Congress unanimously supported the proposed standards, which became law in 1988. Arnold and Ione made many new friends during the ten years he served as President of ARI. He retired from the position in 1994.
During his Air Force career and his business career Ione was a loyal and loving helpmate and a big factor in his success. Her infectious personality, wit, humor and caring attitude endeared her to everyone, and her wise counsel helped him many times.
Arnold compiled a total of several types. His military awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters for valor in combat. For exceptional service in positions of high responsibility he received the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters.
Arnold and Ione currently reside in McLean, Virginia, in the Washington area. They have a son, Jefferson, living at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, a daughter, Sally Murphy, living with her family in Victoria, B.C., and three granddaughters.