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Col. F. P. SturdivantFrank Pleasants Sturdivant, born June 6, 1917, in Memphis, Tennessee, is a descendent of pioneer Mississippi Delta families who came to the Delta in the 1850's and settled in the Glendora-Minter City area. He is the son of Archibald Young Sturdivant and Bessie Pleasants Sturdivant. They and their families have been cotton farmers for almost a century and a half. Frank had one brother, the late Archibald Young Sturdivant, Jr., and a sister, Mildred Sturdivant McKee, who now resides in Carmel, California. Frank grew up in Glendora, attended a two-room school through the grammar grades and then went to high schools in Webb and Greenwood, both in Mississippi. He graduated from Greenwood High School in 1933 at the age of fifteen. He was very involved in Boy Scouts and won his Eagle Scout award at age fourteen. He attended the University as an engineering student in 1933-34 and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Sturdivant also won the coveted freshman Honorary Society membership in Phi Eta Sigma. 

A military career had always appealed to Frank and while at "Ole Miss" he was selected for appointment to the United States Military Academy from the 2nd congressional district of Mississippi, In July 1934, he entered West Point and began the four longest and most difficult years of his life. Although he considered himself less than an exceptional student, he managed to improve his scholarly standing well enough by graduation time to rank 89 out of a class of 301. As a Second Lieutenant he was assigned to the Air Corps Flying School at Randolph Field, Texas. After an exciting year of flying, he graduated as a pilot in 1939 at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas. War was in the air and he was given an assignment, disappointingly to him, as instructor at the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, also in San Antonio. 

It was during this stage of his life that he met his future wife, Dorothy Davenport Samuels. Following a long-range courtship involving many cross-country flights from San Antonio to Memphis, they were finally married in 1940 and settled in San Antonio. Frank was in the initial cadre of flying training officers who, during the next few years, opened bases all over the United States. He moved to the Western Training Command and was cadre for six new airfields. During these busy years he advanced quickly from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel. Somehow, Dorothy had managed to make a home for them at every one of these stations - all situated in out-of-the-way places. Their housing facilities ranged from a single room in a boarding house to a converted henry. Dorothy Jane was born to them in 1942 in Tulare, California. It was a difficult life for a family but they endured in this manner until Frank was sent to the Pacific in 1944. 

In 1943, he transferred to heavy bombers, training B-17 crews at Pyote, Texas up until the time the crews flew out to England. Finally in mid-1944, he left the training phase and was assigned to a B-29 Bomb Group as Deputy Group Commander. Six months later in January of 1945, the 39th Group began movement to Guam in the Marinas Islands to participate in the aerial assault of Japan. In July, he was promoted to Colonel and became the 20th Air Force liaison officer in Tokyo during and after the signing of the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Being a regular Army officer, he was not allowed to return home during demobilization, but instead was transferred to the Philippines in various air operations assignments, culminating in his elevation to commander of the 6th Bomb Group of B-29's at Clark Field. At last in 1946, his family was able to join him and they remained together in the Philippines until 1948. 

There followed interesting assignments to Air Force Headquarters, The Air War College, Staff Air Command and Staff School, and to the National War College. It was during this time that their son, Thomas Rogers Sturdivant, was born.

Staff assignments seemed inevitable although he yearned for a combat unit command. After several months of cajoling everyone he knew, he left the War College for assignment to the Strategic Air Command as Base Commander of Forbes Air Force Base, Topeka, Kansas. His next transfer was to Alaska as SAC liaison officer for six months. His hopes and aspirations were finally realized when, in 1953, he was named Commander of the 341st Bomb Wing of B-47 aircraft at Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas. This came at a crucial time when SAC was attaining an intercontinental nuclear bombing capability and the B-47, a six-engine jet bomber, was the only one with atomic weaponry that the United States had. It was equipped for in-flight refueling and remained the backbone of this country's nuclear delivery capability during the Cold War of the 1950's. Training this Wing of B-47's was, perhaps, Frank's most challenging yet fulfilling assignment.

In 1957, still at Abilene, he took command of the 819th Air Division, which consisted of two Wings of B-47 aircraft, the Base Squadron and other assorted support units. This to Frank was the culmination of many years of persistence and hard work and was a most satisfying assignment.

Sturdivant [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ]

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group" by Robert E. Laird (crew 5) and David Smith (crew 31)