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Benjamin N. Bellis
Bellis bn.jpg
Born (1924-02-04)February 4, 1924
Wheatland, Wyoming, U.S.
Died August 19, 2019(2019-08-19) (aged 95)
Monument, Colorado, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1947–1981
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Vice commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe
Electronic Systems Division
Awards Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Alma mater University of Michigan

Benjamin Neil Bellis (February 4, 1924 – August 19, 2019) was an American Air Force lieutenant general who was vice commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He was also commander of the Air Force's Electronic Systems Division.


Bellis was born in Wheatland, Wyoming, in 1924, and graduated from Lingle High School, in Wyoming. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1946 with a bachelor of science degree in military engineering, a commission as second lieutenant and his pilot wings. He earned a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1952 and a master of science degree in business administration from The George Washington University in 1965. He also completed the executive program of the Graduate School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.

His first assignment after graduation from the academy was with the Strategic Air Command at Fort Worth, Texas. From 1947 to 1950 he served on an Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base, N.M.

Following graduate studies at the University of Michigan, he served until 1957 as project officer on the TM-61B Matador weapon system in the Directorate of Systems Management, Headquarters Air Research and Development Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Upon graduation from the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in 1958, he served in various executive positions in the Thor ballistic missile development program with the Ballistic Missiles Division of Air Research and Development Command. In January 1960 he was appointed chairman of the configuration control board for the Atlas ballistic missile program.

In August 1961 he was assigned to Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, where he was involved in systems management policy. In August 1964 he entered the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.

In August 1965 Bellis was assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he served as deputy director and as director of the F-12/SR-71 Systems Program Office. In July 1968 he became deputy for reconnaissance and electronic warfare, and in July 1969 was appointed director for the F-15 system program.

Bellis became commander of the Electronic Systems Division of the Air Force Systems Command at L.G. Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, in March 1974. He was transferred in November 1974 as commander, Seventeenth Air Force with headquarters at Sembach Air Base, Germany.

Bellis became the commander of Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force with headquarters at Izmir, Turkey, in June 1977. He assumed the position of vice commander in chief, US Air Forces in Europe on July 27, 1978.

He holds the aeronautical rating of command pilot and has been awarded the Master Missileman Badge. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. Also, while program director, his units were awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (F-12/SR-71) and the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award (F-15). In addition, Bellis was recognized with the Air Force Association Wright Memorial Chapter Aerospace Power Award (1973) and the Air Force Association Distinguished Award for Management (1974).

He was promoted to the grade of lieutenant general July 1, 1977, with date of rank June 27, 1977. He retired August 1, 1981 and died on August 19, 2019.

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