Army Aviation

General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell

lb GEN StilwellDuring World War II, General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, commander of Tenth Army,(1) relied on the L-4 Cub extensively. He flew with the Air OPs, many times with the windows open. “On one occasion he was being flown by SSgt Lyle W. White on a mission off Okinawa. A gust of wind blew through the Cub’s cockpit and the general’s battered campaign hat, that he had worn for over 20 years blew out the window.

“General Stilwell sadly watched his hat float down and plop into the sea. He remarked, ‘I’d sure like to go down there and rescue my old friend.’ Upon landing, Stilwell offered $25 to anyone who recovered the hat; much to his delight, it was returned to him 4 hours later.”(2)

(1) On June 18, 1945, Tenth Army commander on Okinawa, Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, was killed by shrapnel from Japanese anti-tank gun fire. The next day, Marine Corps Major General Roy S. Geiger, commander of the III Amphibious Marine Force (1st and 6th Marine Divisions) was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of Tenth Army. This arrangement lasted only four days, as Lieutenant General Stilwell arrived on the scene to assume command.

(2) See page 170, chapter IV, “The War Years: Europe, Pacific and Korea,” The Army Aviation Story, by Richard Tierney with Fred Montgomery.


Feifer, George, Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb, Ticknor & Fields, New York, 1992.

Frank, Benis M., Okinawa: Touchstone to Victory, Ballantine Books, Inc., New York, NY, 1969.

Nichols, Major Charles S., Jr., USMC and Shaw, Henry I., Jr., Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Publishers, Rutland, VT., 1955. Printed under the auspices of the Historical Branch, G-3 Division Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Tierney, Richard with Montgomery, Fred, The Army Aviation Story, Colonial Press, Northport, AL., 1963.