Via email from LTC David Roddick, 8-26-07
After completing one year of studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Ira Adelbert Rader received an appointment to West Point, U.S. Military Academy. Ira graduated 62nd in the Class of 1911 from West Point. He received a B.S. in Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy on 13 Jun 1911, beginning a long, distinguished military career. Upon graduation 2nd Lieutenant Ira A. Rader was assigned to the Infantry Branch. His initial assignment was with the 19th Infantry Regiment. He was stationed at Camp Jossman in Buenavista, Island of Guimaras, the Phillipines until 4 Jan 1912, when his regiment was transferred to Fort William McKinley in Manila, the Phillipines, where he remained until 14 Jun 1912. On 14 Jun 1912 he was transferred to the 24th Infantry Regiment, and was later ordered to duty on Corregidor Island in the Phillipines. He served there until Sep 1914 when he returned to the U.S. on leave.
Back in the U.S., Ira Rader submitted himself for a flight school fitness examination after hearing the U.S. Army had purchased another Wright and a Curtiss airplane. Achieving his objective, Ira returned briefly to California for flying instruction at the Signal Corps Aviation School in San Diego, California starting 8 Dec 1914. He soloed May 1915 in a Martin T (one of the first such airplanes delivered), won the FAI rating #327 on 16 Jun 1915, and was assigned to the Aviation Section, Signal Corps, as a 1st Lieutenant JMA [Junior Military Aviator] on 14 Jul 1915.
Ira was transferred by train from San Diego to Fort Sill in Oklahoma as a member of the First Aero Squadron. Assigned to fire control operations, 1st Lieutenant Ira Rader suffered with the first eight Curtiss JN-2 trainer aircraft newly issued to the First Aero Squadron. Under new orders, Ira was one of a group commanded by Captain Benjamin D. Foulois that made the first squadron flight of eight Curtiss JN-2 airplanes (not yet altered to the Curtiss JN-3 model airplane) from Fort Sill to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. On 13 Mar 1916, the First Aero Squadron left Fort Sam Houston for Columbus, New Mexico flying eight Curtiss JN-3 airplanes (newly modified from the Curtiss JN-2 design) with more powerful engines. The Signal Corps had ordered the modifications for Mexican border duty. The squadron covered the 439-mile distance in a total of 8 days. The unit later relocated its operations to Casas Grandes, Mexico in Mar 1916.
1st Lieutenant Ira A. Rader and the First Aero Squadron joined General "Blackjack" Pershing's Punitive Expedition into Mexico chasing Poncho Villa and his troops. The Curtiss JN-3 aircraft, originally designed as a trainer, proved to be a poor performer on the high plateaus and mountains in Mexico making them unsuitable for field operations. This performance problem resulted in several downed aircraft. As an example, Lieutenant Ira A. Rader undertook a reconnaissance mission on April 14 1916, but was forced to land at Ojito, nearly 100 miles from the nearest U.S. force. Ira had to abandon his plane, leaving the squadron with only three planes. While he was walking home, the remaining two Curtiss JN-3s and the rest of the squadron were sent back to Columbus, New Mexico for refitting. The fliers arrived on April 20, 1916, and found four new Curtiss N-8s, an export version of the JN-4, the latest model of the "Jenny." These were the first of 94 JN-4s ordered by the Army in 1916 (the JN-4 soon became the standard U.S. trainer). During Punitive Expedition operations from 15 Mar 1916 to 15 Aug 1916, the First Aero Squadron made a total of 540 flights over a distance of 19,553 miles, and a total flying time of 345 hours and 43 minutes.
1st Lieutenant Ira Rader was then ordered to Washington and to Mineola, Long Island, New York, in Sep 1916 where he joined Captain Joseph E. Carberry at the aviation station on one side of the Wright Company's field. Captain Carberry had previously flown with the First Aero Squadron and Lieutenant Ira Rader in the United States and Mexico. That summer, the aviation station operated as a test station for Barlow bombs, bomb sights, and all manner of other aviation equipment and instruments. Ira was promoted to the permanent rank of Captain on 16 May 1917. On 20 Jul 1917, Ira was transferred from the Signal Corps Aviation School at Mineola, New York, and assigned on 28 Jul 1917 as Departmental Aeronautical Officer, Central Department, Chicago, Illinois, with the temporary rank of Major. An article in the 3 Aug 1917 Washington Post titled "Ordered to Cape Fear" stated that "Maj. Ira A. Rader, junior military aviator, signal corps, is assigned to duty as aeronautical officer, Central Department." He remained there until 13 Oct 1917; when he was sent on detached duty to Mineola, New York, sailed for France soon after, arriving at Brest, France on 12 Nov 1917 as a member of the WWI American Expeditionary Force. For a few weeks Major Ira Rader was attached to Headquarters, Chief of Air Service, Paris, France, and then assumed command of the Seventh Aviation Instruction Center (7th AIC) at Clermont-Ferrand, France on 27 Nov 1917. Ira was responsible for aviation training for new observers and aviators. He maintained this command until 11 Sep 1918. On 13 Sep 1918 he was promoted to the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Air Service, and attached to First Bombardment Group at Amanty, France. Before leaving, Ira went to the front to assess the effectiveness of his bombing instruction. He visited several airdromes and at one of them he went on a sortie with six heavy bombers. Three flew at 1500 feet, and three others with Lieutenant Colonel Rader flew at 3,000 feet. A German Richthofen squadron attacked the American sortie from out of the sun, gunning the upper flight, but then saw easier targets below. The lower flight was destroyed. The upper flight went on to drop their load of bombs. Ira's participation in aviation offenses and bombings of St. Mihiel and the Argonne during Sep 1918 were under General Billy Mitchell's leadership.
During a visit with Lieutenant Colonel Ira Rader, General Pershing commended him and ordered him to go back to the U.S. to assume command of Ellington Field, near Houston, Texas. He was temporarily assigned to Headquarters, Air Service, S.O.S., Tours, France, where he remained until he sailed for the U.S. as a Special Representative of the Training Department, Air Service on 9 Oct 1918. He was then placed on temporary duty in the Office of Director of Military Aeronautics until 2 Nov 1918. Lieutenant Colonel Ira Rader took over as commanding officer of Ellington Field, then, the largest aviation training facility in the country on 4 Nov 1918.
Ira served in the National Army in the Air Service, U.S. Army from 7 Jun 1918 until his initial discharge in 20 Feb 1920. Ira continued his military education between WWI and WWII attending the following military schools: Air Service Engineering School (1920), Army Industrial College (1925), Air Corps Tactical School (1927), and the Command and General Staff School (1928). Ira's daughter Alice died and his son Philip was born while Ira was stationed and attending schools in 1927 at Langley Field, Virginia.
Ira was promoted to the permanent rank of Major in the Air Service on 1 Jul 1920; and to the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 1 Aug 1935. Ira worked in the Inspector General's Department on 1 Sep 1939. After Ira was promoted to the temporary rank of Colonel on 26 Aug 1936, Ira rose to the permanent rank of Colonel on 1 Jun 1940 in the Army Air Corps, which later became the U.S. Air Force. About 1939 Colonel Ira A. Rader was assigned as the commanding office of Barksdale Field near Shrevesport, Louisiana. At that time Barksdale Field had become the largest air field in the world. In 1940, Barksdale Field was made an Army Air Corps flying school. The four specialized flying schools established were Advanced Flying School (Two-Engine, Pilots), Advanced Flying School (Two-Engine, Navigators), Advanced Flying School (Two-Engine, Bombardiers), and Advanced Flying School (Single-Engine, Pilots). Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the schools were abandoned and Barksdale Field was returned to combat command.
Sometime during World War II, Colonel Ira Rader was stationed in Stone, Staffordshire, England, in charge of the 8th Air Force Reinforcement Depot. Over a million men came through his command to be assigned to battle stations. After the U.S.'s WWII victory, he also had charge of the R&R rest homes, beautiful mansions hundreds of years old commandeered or volunteered to give the pilots a quiet place to get back their sanity. The only flying he did over in England was to get to various meetings and to these rest homes. Colonel Ira A. Rader retired on 31 Jul 1947 after 33 years flying in the U.S. Air Force. He was recently inducted into the roster of members of The Early Birds of Aviation, an organization consisting of a small group of early aviators who first soloed before 17 Dec 1916.
Colonel Ira A. Rader's Army Service Number was O3107. During his military career, Ira was rated a Command Pilot, a Combat Observer, an Aircraft Observer and a Technical Observer. Ira was privileged to serve with many legendary soldiers and airmen during his long military career, including General Billie Mitchell, General Eddie Richenbacker [recipient of the Medal of Honor], General Jimmie Dolittle [recipient of the Medal of Honor], Brigadier General Benjamin D. Foulois and General Henry "Hap" Arnold, just to name a few.
During his long military career Ira received the Legion of Merit Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, in addition to numerous lesser military commendations, medals and awards.
Thank you for taking the time to remember the fine men who served our country in early aviation,
LTC David B. Roddick
from Ellington 1918
Courtesy of Gary D. White
Ellington Field, since its inception, has had four commanding Commanding Officers--Lieutenant-Colonel Curry, Major McDonnell, Major Frank and Lieutenant-Colonel Rader.
Colonel Rader's career since he left West Point in 1911 has been replete with thrills. He has not only seen active service over the lines in France, but was with General Pershing's force as an aviator during the invasion of Mexico.
Colonel Rader was born in Mayten, California. He was appointed to West Point Military Academy in 1907, and graduated June 13, 1911. His first assignment after leaving the academy was with the Nineteenth Infantry as Second Lieutenant at Camp Jossman, Phillipine Islands. He was stationed there until January 4, 1912, when his regiment was moved to Fort William McKinley, where he remained until June 14, 1912, on which date he was transferred to the Twenty-Fourth Infantry. He was later ordered to Corregidor, ID., P.I., and served there until September, 1914, when he returned to the United States on leave.
The thrills of flying, which was then a rather uncertain and hazardous undertaking, appealed to Colonel Rader, and he was attached as a student aviator to the Signal Corps Aviation School, San Diego, California, where he commenced his flying training. On July 14, 1915, he was rated as a Junior Military Aviator, and assigned to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps as a First Lieutenant. Shortly afterward he was assigned to the First Aero Squadron, which later left for training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He served there until November 17, 1915. With four other pilots he made a cross-country flight to San Antonio, changing his station to the latter place, November 25, 1915. He served at the Aviation Post, Fort Sam Houston, until the trouble with Mexico.
On March 11, 1915, he ws ordered into Mexico with the First Aero Squadron as part of General Pershing's Punitive Expedition. He was attached to General Pershing's Headquarters from March 19, 1915, to September 20, 1916.
Colonel Rader, with Colonel Killner and others, made many hazardous flight into Mexico in machines that were by no means as stable as those now in use.
On July 1, 1916, he was promoted to a First Lieutenancy of Infantry and automatically made a Captain J. M. A. He wasl thereupon ordered to Mineola, N. Y., where he served at the Signal Corps Aviation School until July 20, 1917.
On May 16, 1917, he was promoted to a captaincy of Infantry and assumed the rank of Major J. M. A. He was made Departmental Aeronautical Officer, Central Department, Chicago, Ill., in which capacity he served from July 28 until October 13, 1917. He was then sent on detached srvice to Mineola, N. Y., and sailed for France soon afterward. He arrived at Brest November 12, 1917.
For a few weeks he was attached to Headquarters, Chief of Air Service, Paris, and then assumed command of the Seventh Aviation Instruction Center, Clermont-Ferrand, France, November 27, 1917. This command he held until September 11, 1918.
On September 13, 1918, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, Air Service, and attached to the First Bombardment Group at Amanty, France. He engaged in active service over the lines during the St. Mihiel and Champagne attacks.
Later he was on temporary duty at Headquarters, Air Service, S. O. S., Tours, France, where he remained until October 9, 1918. On that date he sailed for the United States as Special Representative of Training Department, Air Service. He was placed on temporary duty at the Office of Director of Military Aeronautics, until November 2, 1918.
On November 4, 1918, Lieutenant-Colonel Rader arrived at Ellington Field, succeeding Major Walter H. Frank as Commanding Officer.
He shortly suffered with those eight JN2s at the fire control operations at Fort Sill as a member of the First Aero Squadron. He was one of the group which made the first squadron flight of 6 planes (now altered to JN3s) from Fort Sill to San Antonio. They covered the 439 miles in 8 elapsed days.
On March 13, 1916, Monday morning, the squadron left Fort Sam Houston for the border and duty with Pershing's punitive expedition, there flying the N8s which the Signal Corps ordered for border duty.
In September he was ordered to Washington and to Mineola where he joined Captain Carberry at the aviation station on one side of the Wright company's field.
This station operated as a test station that summer for Barlow bombs, sights and all manner of other equipment and instruments. So much for the early days.
He remained in the AS, SC, Air Service, Air Corps, and Air Force until his retirement July 31, 1947---33 years of continual flying.
Between Border days and country life he was rated Military Aviator, was C. O. 7th A. I. C. in the AEF, and with the First Day Bomb Group at St. Mihiel and the Argonne.
Courtesy of Steve Remington at COLLECTAIR
Via email from Margaret Iovino, 1-2-06
There is correspondence about Clermont, from one of the Aviators there between April 1918 - June 1918, that includes a story about how "our Major" (who commanded the squandron) forced the pilots to exercise -- or rather successfully persuaded them and they became very motivated to get in shape, which is pretty amazing! There is a photo of the pilots here:
WW I Letters Home
St. Michaels, Md.
Editor's Note: I thank Margaret for alerting us to this information about Major Rader and especially for introducing us to this absolutely fascinating collection of letters which had been written by Allen Peck while he was serving in World War I and assembled in book form by Charles E. Peck. You can learn more about the book by clicking on:
WWI Letters Home - 1917-1919 :
U.S. Army WW I Pilot Assigned to France
MEXICAN PUNITIVE EXPEDITION, 1916
By Capt. Benjamin D. Foulois, Signal Corps, U.S. Army
Harold and many other Early Birds are mentioned in this story.
You can access it by clicking on:
First Aero Squadron
Ira Adelbert Rader was born on 30 Jul 1887 in Mayten, Siskiyou Co, CA, died on 14 Sep 1958 in NC
at age 71, and was buried in Arlington Nat., Cemetery, #03227 Sec 4.