Benjamin Grant Willis – Brigadier General, United States Air Force

Courtesy of the United States Air Force

Retired August 31, 1963, Died March 1, 1976

Benjamin G. Willis was born in 1915, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, in June 1938, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in English and economics, and an ROTC commission. In 1959 he earned a master of arts degree in government and Politics from the University of Maryland at College

In June 1941, he was called to active duty as a Second Lieutenant the cavalry. The following year, after completing flight training in the Army Air Corps, he was awarded his pilot wings at Valdosta Field, Georgia.

From 1943 through 1945, while serving in England and France as a squadron commander, he flew 63 combat bombing missions in B-26s. He participated in the European air offensive and the Normandy, North France and Rhineland campaigns.

From 1945 to 1955, General Willis held command and operations staff positions, including tours of duty in Germany and England. From 1955 to 1958, he was assigned to the White House staff as Air Force adviser to the Honorable Harold E. Stassen, special assistant to the President for Disarmament. From 1958 to 1959 he attended the National War College in Washington, D.C. In the same year he became commander of the Iceland
Defense Force until August 1961, when he assumed his present post as commander of the First Air Force Reserve Region, with headquarters at Stewart Air Force Base, New York.

General Willis' awards and decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters and the Bronze Star. He is a command pilot, having flown more than 3,500 hours.

The First Air Force Reserve Region is responsible for the training of all Air Force Reservists in the six New England states, New York and New Jersey. Included in the reserve program in the region area are two troop carrier wings with five squadrons and 13 Air Force reserve recovery groups, with 24 squadrons.

The General was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 34.


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