|From: A Town Called Tulare
A Pictorial History of Tulare, California
By Derryl A. Dumermuth
Jostens Printing and Publishing, Inc.
First Printing- December, 2002
Maurice Arthur “Mo” Preston was born on November 25, 1912 in Weed, California, the son of James and Petronella Preston. After his first year of high school in Porterville, the family moved to Tulare where Mr. Preston was a dairyman. At Tulare Union High School, “Mo” quarterbacked the football team and was elected president of the senior class, graduating in 1931. After a year at St. Mary’s College on a football scholarship, he received an appointment to West Point. He graduated in 1937 and started pilot training at Kelly Field, Texas. During World War II he rose rapidly through the ranks. As a colonel he commanded the 41st Combat Wing in the European Theater, and flew a total of 43 missions, 23 of them as commander of the entire Air Force Bombardment Armada.
By 1953 Preston had been promoted to Brigadier General and assigned command of the 4th Air Division, SAC. Four years later he was a Major General and Director of Operations, USAF. In 1963 President Kennedy appointed him Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and made a full four-star general. His decorations include medals from Britain, France, Belgium and Japan, as well as a large number from his own government.
In 1958 General Preston was instrumental in securing an impressive gift for hometown Tulare, the B-17 Flying Fortress that can be seen alongside Highway 99 at Mefford Field, a lasting memorial to men from this area who served in World War II. Preston himself was at the controls as he flew the plane into the small airport. He retired to Northwest Washington in 1967 after 31 years of service. He died in Bethesda, Maryland on January 25, 1983 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery.