1. The organization of USAF, South Atlantic, with headquarters at Recife, Brazil, was established under the command of General Walsh by War Department letter dated 20 November 1942. Headquarters, USAF, South Atlantic, was discontinued 31 October 1945.

2. In the years before World War II, overseas departments controlled all Army activities in the Panama Canal region and in the Puerto Rican region. Early in 1941 the defenses of the Puerto Rican Department and the Panama Canal Department were integrated, along with the base commands which had been set up in the American leased bases in British Caribbean territory, under the Caribbean Defense Command. In mid-1941 General Van Voorhis commanded the Panama Canal Department, and Maj. Gen. J. L. Collins commanded the Puerto Rican Department. Prior to Pearl Harbor, however, General Van Voorhis was replaced by General Andrews. Subsequently the Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command, was concurrently the Commanding General, Panama Canal Department. The Puerto Rican Department became part of the Antilles Department, a subordinate command within the Caribbean Defense Command.

3. The Alaska Defense Command was designated in February 1941 as part of the War Department move to organize Western Hemisphere defenses on a defense command basis. Before and during the first months of World War II, Alaska was under the 9th Corps Area command, commanded by Lt. Gen. J. L. DeWitt, who also commanded the Fourth Army, stationed on the West Coast. Upon the creation of the Alaska Defense Command, General DeWitt exercised control over Alaska as Commanding General, Fourth Army. After the Western Defense Command (WDC) was constituted 17 March 1941, General DeWitt as commanding general had a planning responsibility for the defense of Alaska, which was still in the 9th Corps Area, as well as WDC. Upon the activation of WDC after Pearl Harbor (11 December 1941) and its designation as a theater of operations, the Alaska Defense Command was placed under its control with General DeWitt still in a superior position of responsibility. General Buckner was ordered to Alaska in the spring of 1940 to assume command of American troops there, and became successively Commanding General, Alaskan Defense Force, Alaska Defense Command and Commanding General, Alaskan Department. The Alaska Defense Command was redesignated effective 1 November 1943 and separated from WDC. Upon the establishment of the Alaskan Department in 1943, the Army activities in Alaska came to be administered separately very much on the same basis as those in Hawaii. General Buckner was relieved from command of the Alaskan Department 12 June 1944, assumed command of the Tenth Army in August 1944, and was killed on Okinawa in June 1945.

4. WDC headquarters was combined with Fourth Army headquarters with station at San Francisco. Each became a separate headquarters on 12 September 1943. The status of WDC as a theater of operations was authorized by War Department radio to WDC 11 December 1941 and was terminated 27 October 1943. WDC was discontinued 1 March 1946. General DeWitt remained in command of WDC from March 1942 to September 1943. Lt. Gen. D. C. Emmons succeeded him, serving from September 1943 to June 1944. Maj. Gen. R. H. Lewis was in command briefly in June 1944, Maj. Gen. C. H. Bonesteel II was in command from June until November 1944, and Maj. Gen. H. C. Pratt was in command from December 1944 until November 1945, after the close of hostilities. The Eastern Defense Command, originally called Northeast Defense Command, was constituted on 17 March 1941, along with the other continental U. S. defense commands. It was redesignated the Eastern Theater of Operations on 24 December 1941. During all this period Lt. Gen. H. A. Drum was concurrently Commanding General, First Army and Eastern (Northeast) Defense Command (Theater of Operations). The Eastern Theater of Operations was reconstituted the Eastern Defense Command 11 March 1942. General Drum was succeeded in both capacities in 1943 by Lt. Gen. George Grunert, who served as Commanding General, Eastern Defense Command, 8 October 1943-31 July 1945. Brig. Gen. K. P. Lord became Acting Commanding General, Eastern Defense Command, 1 August 1945 and held the post until 15 March 1946, when the command was discontinued. The Central and Southern Defense Commands, the remaining continental U. S. commands, were never theaters of operations.

Return to the Table of Contents

Search CMH Online
Last updated 19 October 2004