Uzal Girard Ent
Uzal Girard Ent
|Born||March 3, 1900|
|Died||5 March 1948(aged 48)|
|Service/||United States Army Air Forces|
|Years of service||1917–1946|
|Commands held||IX Bomber Command|
Second Air Force
|Battles/wars||World War II|
On May 30, 1928 he was the co-pilot of a balloon in the National Balloon Race starting at Bettis Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During the race, Ent's balloon was struck by lightning over Youngstown, Pennsylvania. The lightning strike killed the pilot and set the balloon's hydrogen filled envelope on fire. Ent could have parachuted to safety but, instead, chose to stay with the balloon, attempted to rescue the pilot and successfully piloted the balloon to the ground. For this act of heroism, Ent was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross later that year. 
After graduating from the Command and General Staff College in 1938 he served as a military attaché at the American Embassy, Lima, Peru from July 1939 until October 1942, acting as the senior neutral military observer on the Peruvian side after their boundary war with Ecuador.
He was Chief of Staff to the U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East from October 1942 until February 1943. He then served as Commanding General, 9th Bomber Command, 9th Air Force from February to December 1943, and led 178 B-24s in "Operation Tidal Wave" — the bombing raid on the oil fields at Ploieşti, Romania, on August 1, 1943 — before being appointed Chief of Staff and then Commanding General, 2nd Air Force, based at Colorado Springs, Colorado. In September 1944, it was General Ent who selected Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets to put together an organisation and train them to drop atomic weapons from B-29 bombers. Given Tibbets and two other names by General Arnold, General Ent replied without hesitation, "Paul Tibbets is the man to do it." 
In October 1944, Ent was seriously injured in the crash of a B-25 on takeoff at the Fort Worth Army Airfield, Texas. Paralyzed from the waist down he learned to walk again using braces. He retired for disability in line of duty in 1946, with the rank of major general. He died at Fitzsimons General Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, on March 5, 1948.
- Command Pilot Wings
- Distinguished Service Cross
- Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
- Legion of Merit
- Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster
- Air Medal with oak leaf cluster
- World War I Victory Medal
- American Defense Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Cheney Award
His foreign decorations included:
In 1951, an Air Force base opened near Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was named in the general's honor. Ent Air Force Base was the initial home to the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) from 1957 until 1963 when the command center moved to a highly secure facility within Cheyenne Mountain. Ent AFB then became the Ent Annex to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in 1975, and the facility was subsequently closed in 1976.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8298 in General Ent's hometown of Northumberland, Pennsylvania, is named "Major General Uzal G. Ent" to honor his memory.
- "Biographies: Major General Uzal Girard Ent". af.mil.
- American Decorations. Supplement 1. Office of the Adjutant General. Washington, D.C., 1937. pg. 67.
- "One hell of a big bang". The Guardian. August 5, 2002. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "Milestones, Mar. 15, 1948". TIME. March 15, 1948. Retrieved 14 June 2010.