GEN Frank S. Besson, Jr. 

Army Aviation Hall of Fame 1986 Induction - Fort Rucker, AL

Frank S. Besson, Jr., was a graduate of the United States Military Academy and of the Graduate School of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the age of 34 he became the youngest Brigadier General in the Army Ground Forces while superintending the enormous flow of war materiel during World War II from the U.S. to the Soviet Union (Winston Churchill said it totaled five million tons).

After the surrender of Japan he was ordered to assume control of the country's immensely complex rail system and according to General Eichelberger did the job supremely well.

He later became the Army's Chief of Transportation and then the first commander of the Army Materiel Command. In these positions Besson immediately recognized the emerging tactical importance of Army Aviation and, with characteristic foresight and drive, proceeded to establish and develop the logistic base that would make it work. He established the Army Aviation Depot Maintenance activity at Corpus Christi (ARADMAC), and was instrumental in securing approval for the Army to procure its own aircraft and to do its own research, development, and engineering.

To enable the Army to meet these daunting new responsibilities he placed heavy emphasis on graduate programs for his subordinate officers and civilian employees, on their education with industry, and on other schooling that exposed the Army to the most modern industrial management techniques.

General Besson was thus responsible to a major degree for the successful development of literally all the aircraft types now flying in the Army. But much more than that, he established an Army aircraft support system which, from a most modest beginning, developed with exemplary rapidity into a highly sophisticated, effective organization.

A superb organizer, manager, and soldier, General Besson was a giant of a man, controlling assets that ran into many billions of dollars. Many of Army Aviation's present and future accomplishments have or will have been made possible by his extraordinary energy, talent, and leadership. He died, after his retirement, in Washington, D.C. in 1985.