Robert D Knapp

Robert D Knapp

World War II · US Army · General

Gen Bob Knapp's 321st Lives On /later CO of 57th BW

  • Columbia, SC.

Brigadier General Robert Duane Knapp;

Robert D. Knapp was born in December 1897 in Moreland, Ga. He attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and during World War I he served as a private first class in the Aviation Section, Signal Corps, from Oct. 2, 1917, until March 9, 1918, when he was appointed a second lieutenant in the Aviation Section, Signal Reserve. He remained on continuous active duty and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Air Service in the Regular Army on July 1, 1920.

As an enlisted man he served with a detachment of flying cadets at Rich Field, Waco, Texas. Upon being commissioned he transferred to Ellington Field, Texas, as a flying instructor, and in August 1918 joined the 92nd Squadron at Ford Junction Airdrome, Sussex, England. In November 1918 he returned to the United States for duty with the 1st Provincial Wing, Long Island, N.Y. He was then ordered to the Panama Canal Zone for service with the 7th Aero Squadron at France Field from February until July 1919, when he returned to the United States and proceeded to El Paso, Texas, for duty with the 96th Aero Squadron as post exchange officer. He subsequently moved to Camp Stephen D. Little, Nogales, Ariz., as squadron adjutant and exchange officer.
57th Bomb Wing Commander; From October 1940 until July 1941, he served at Langley Field, Va., as executive officer, 2nd Wing, General Headquarters Air Force, and commanding officer, 38th Bombardment Group, successively. He then moved to Jackson Army Air Base, Miss., in command of the 38th Bombardment Group. He was assigned to command the 21st Bombardment Group at that same station in February 1942. From July until September 1942 he was stationed in Columbia, S.C., with the III Bomber Command, and then became group commander, 321st Bombardment Group, at Walterboro, S.C., until December 1943. He commanded the 12th Bomber Command from December 1943 to September 1944, and the 57th Bombardment Wing from 1944 to 1945.

Barbi Ennis Connolly <a></a>

Brig. Gen. "Bob" Knapp WWI - WWII Aviator

    Robert Duane Knapp
    Brigadier General, United States Air Force

    Courtesy of the United States Air Force Office of History:

    Holding pilot license #185, signed by Orville Wright, Brigadier General Robert D. Knapp has had a long and varied aviation career.

    He was born in Moreland, Georgia, but grew up in Auburn, Alabama.

    In 1917, 19-year-old Knapp was turned down for Army officer training because he was too young, but was accepted later as an aviation cadet. Cadet Knapp pinned on his wings and second lieutenant bars on 9 March 1918. However, neither he nor his unit, the 92d Bombardment Squadron, saw combat. After arriving in England in August 1918, they waited until the Armistice for propellers for their Handley Page 0/400 bombers.

    After the war, Knapp had a variety of assignments. In mid-1919, he was assigned to the 96th Aero Squadron at El Paso, Texas, but was soon moved to Camp Stephen D. Little, Nogales, Arizona, as part of the 12th Observation Squadron. In 1923, he was sent to Maxwell Field, Alabama, where he flew aerial mapping missions. While there, he flew the first air mail between Montgomery and New Orleans.

    In 1927, he moved to Brooks Field, Texas, and served as an instructor in the Primary Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas. He was Commandant of Cadets, Air Corps Primary Flying School at Brooks Field when he was sent to the Canal Zone in September 1931 to command the 44th Observation Squadron at France Field.

    Later, he assumed command of the 7th Observation Squadron, also at France Field, and remained there until he returned to Kelly Field, as Director of Flying Training in 1934.

    In 1937, while still at Kelly, he recruited ROTC graduates for aviation by leading the entire Advanced Flying School Class and their 98 aircraft on cross-country trips to universities in the southeast and the midwest.

    Major Knapp attended Air Corps Tactical School in 1938, and then served as instructor for the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard. In 1940, he was the executive officer for the 1st Bomber Command at Langley Field, Virginia.

    After Pearl Harbor, Colonel Knapp organized six bomb groups and trained three of them before taking command of the 321st Bomb Group. He trained the 321st on the B-25 Mitchell and led the group into combat in North Africa in 1943.

    He received a Silver Star for an unescorted attack on an Axis ship convoy protected by fighters. In 1944, he took command of the 57th Bomb Wing and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

    Before retiring in 1953, he spent 4 years as Chief, Air Force Mission to Argentina. General Knapp is a Founder Member of the Order of Daedalians and is extremely active with reunions of the B-25 units he once led. Today, he shares his home in Auburn, Alabama, with his daughter, Mrs Dorothy Spain.