FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky's adjutant general remembered Maj. Gen. Philip Pendleton Ardery as an exceptional man whose sense of service, integrity, honor and excellence laid the foundation for the modern-day Kentucky Air National Guard.
Ardery, the Kentucky Air Guard's first wing commander when the unit was formed in 1947, died July 26 at his Louisville home. He was 98.
"The Kentucky Air National Guard has a long history of excellence, and that is no accident," said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky. "Phillip Ardery was a true Renaissance man, a combat veteran of World War II, a lawyer, citizen-soldier, author and humanitarian. He set a standard that continues to challenge us today.
"General Ardery has been the inspiration to 123rd leadership for the entire history of the wing. Thanks to his vision and drive, the Kentucky Air National Guard is a major player in the defense of our nation and the safety and security of the commonwealth of Kentucky."
Ardery was born March 6, 1914, in Lexington, Ky., and grew up on a farm in Bourbon County. He earned a degree in English literature from the University of Kentucky in 1935 and went on to complete law school at Harvard three years later.
Upon returning to Kentucky, Ardery opened a legal practice in Frankfort, but the venture was short-lived. As the nation moved closer to war, Ardery enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a private in 1940. He graduated as 1st Captain of the Flying Cadet Corps at Kelley Field in San Antonio, Texas, in April 1941 and was assigned to serve as a flight instructor at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, Texas.
While stationed at Goodfellow, Ardery met Anne Stuyvesant, and the two were married Dec. 6, 1941 -- the day before Pearl Harbor Day.
Capt. Ardery commanded the 564th Bomb Squadron (H) beginning in February 1943, joining the 389th Bomb Group (H) based in Norwich, England, that June. From outposts in North Africa, he flew B-24s on many missions across the Mediterranean, including the first low-level raid on oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, for which he earned the Silver Star.
From England and North Africa, Ardery flew raids over Vegesack, Bayeux, Solingen and Oslo during the winter of 1943-44, leading up to the invasion of Normandy. He also led the 2nd Combat Bomb Wing on the first daylight bombing of Berlin in March 1944 and flew on the first mission of D-Day, June 6, 1944. His memoir of the war, Bomber Pilot, was published in 1978.
Discharged from active duty in 1945, Ardery was named two years later to command the 123rd Fighter Wing of the newly formed Kentucky Air National Guard.
Called back to active duty during the Korean War, Ardery and the 123rd relocated to England, where he served as wing-base commander of the NATO Air Force, Royal Air Force Station Manston, from 1951-52.
After deactivation, he continued to command the 123rd, which at times included air groups in other states as well as Kentucky's group based at Standiford Field in Louisville.
Ardery was promoted to brigadier general in April 1962 and retired from the military as a major general in 1965.
As a civilian, Ardery co-founded the law firm of Brown, Ardery, Todd & Dudley in June 1959. The firm merged with Brown, Eldred & Bonnie, and Marshall, Cochran, Heyburn & Wells in 1972 to form Brown, Todd & Heyburn, then Kentucky's largest law firm.
Ardery retired from the practice of law in 1979 but remained engaged in his community. In the early 1980s, Ardery became an advocate for mental health, a cause he pursued for more than two decades.
With Barry Bingham Sr., Bosworth Todd and Dr. Herb Wagemaker, Ardery and others founded the Schizophrenia Foundation of Kentucky in 1981. Out of this organization grew Wellspring, which now provides housing, care and rehabilitation for people with mental illness at 19 sites throughout Jefferson and neighboring counties.
He is survived by Anne; son, Philip Pendleton Ardery Jr. and his wife, Cecilia Palacio Ardery; son, Joseph Lord Tweedy Ardery and his wife, Anne Lenihan Ardery, all of Louisville; and daughter, Julia Spencer Ardery and her husband, William Allen Bishop, of Austin, Texas.
Ardery was buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville on July 30.