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Major Leo C. Lewis
Airplane Commander
Major General Leo C. Lewis
Photo Courtesy of "Campy" Camperlino

MAJOR GENERAL LEO C. LEWIS
Retired Feb. 1, 1974

Major General Leo C. Lewis is vice commander of Fifteenth Air Force, Strategic Air Command, with headquarters at March Air Force Base, Calif. Fifteenth Air Force is responsible for Strategic Air Command operations in the western United States and Alaska. Its mixed force of reconnaissance and bomber aircraft and missiles support the national strategic deterrence mission.

General Lewis was born in 1921, in Pensacola, Fla. He graduated from Pensacola High School in 1939, and attended Sacramento Junior College, Calif. He entered the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet in February 1942 and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from flying school in February 1943. He then attended advanced flying training in the B-17 Flying Fortress at Blythe Army Air Base, Calif.

During World War II in September 1943 General Lewis went to the European Theater of Operations where he served with the 94th Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force, and flew 25 combat missions in the B-17. He returned to the United States in March 1944 and went to Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kan., for B-29 pilot training and in November was transferred to Guam with the 39th Bombardment Group, which became a part of the Twentieth Air Force. He flew 27 combat missions in the air offensive against Japan.

In September 1945 General Lewis was assigned to the 307th Bombardment Group at MacDill Field, Fla., as squadron operations officer and later was commander of the 371st Bombardment Squadron. While at MacDill he attended the Air Tactical School. In August 1948 he was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in the Directorate of Operations and was transferred with the headquarters to Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. From August to October 1950 he served as assistant operations officer for the 2d Bombardment Group at Chatham Air Force Base, Ga. He next was assigned as a student officer in the U.S. Air Force navigator and bombardier schools at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas, and Mather Air Force Base, Calif.

In July 1951 General Lewis was assigned to the 305th Bombardment Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, where he served on the operations staff until November when he assumed command of the 366th Bombardment Squadron. In September 1952 he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he served in the Directorate of Requirements, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Development.

From August 1955 to January 1956 General Lewis had a tour of duty at Thule Air Base, Greenland, and then was transferred to Portsmouth Air Force Base (now Pease Air Force Base), N.H., as director of operations and later was deputy commander of the 100th Bombardment Wing. In July 1958 he entered the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

In July 1959 he again was assigned to Headquarters SAC for duty in the Directorate of Operations as deputy chief of the Control Division and became chief of the Operations Division. He went to Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., in July 1962, where he commanded the 28th Bombardment Wing for three years. His next assignment was to Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force at March Air Force Base, Calif., where he was director of operations. He returned to Headquarters SAC in June 1967 as director of command control in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and in April 1968 assumed duties as the inspector general for SAC.

General Lewis was assigned as vice commander, Eighth Air Force, SAC, with headquarters at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in March 1970. During this assignment he flew numerous B-52 and KC-135 missions in Southeast Asia. He became vice commander of the Fifteenth Air Force, SAC, with headquarters at March Air Force Base, Calif., in February 1972.

His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation Emblem with two oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with two oak leaf clusters.

He is a rated navigator and command pilot with more than 8,500 hours flying time, including more than 4,000 hours in jet aircraft.

General Lewis' hometown is Pensacola, Fla.

He was promoted to the temporary grade of major general effective Feb. 26, 1971, with date of rank Oct. 16, 1966.

After retirement in 1974, General Lewis was employed by the Bechtel Corp. with headquarters in San Francisco, CA.

During his tenure with Bechtel he was involved with various engineering and construction projects throughout the U.S. , Europe, North Africa, the Middle east, and Australia.

He has two sons, Lewis Lee Lewis and Scott Lewis, two daughters, Linda Ellison and Zell Lewis, two grandchildren, Randy and Linlee.

General Lewis took his Final Flight on July 21, 2012. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery
Source: USAF Biography and "History of the 39th Bomb Group"