Bryce Poe II – General, United States Air Force

General, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report:

Bryce Poe II, 76, a heavily decorated four-star Air Force general who saw combat in two wars and settled in the Washington area after his retirement in 1981, died November 20, 2000, at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital after a stroke. He lived in Alexandria, Virginia.

In retirement, he wrote about military history and was a consultant through the 1990s on military base closings, among other matters.

General Poe, a fourth-generation military man and son of a retired Army Colonel, was born in Wichita, Kansas.

He was a 1946 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk and the National War College in Washington.

He received a master's degree in history from the University of Omaha and a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University.

After graduation from West Point, General Poe became a member of one of the first jet-equipped units in the Air Force.

During the Korean War, he flew several clandestine missions near or over Soviet and Chinese territory and, in an RF-80A, flew one of the first jet reconnaissance missions of the war, according to a 1999 Air Force Magazine article.

Later, during the Vietnam War, he was vice commander of a tactical reconnaissance wing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam and flew 213 combat missions.


United States Air Force Photo

General Poe's last active-duty assignment was as commander of the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. At Wright-Patterson, his duties included overseeing technical logistics support to all Air Force active and reserve force activities.

His decorations included two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, four awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, 20 awards of the Air Medal and three awards of the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Kari Rollum Poe of Alexandria; a son, Bryce III, of Kansas City, Missouri; two daughters,Susan Dickson of Austin and Karen Watts of Cincinnati; and four grandchildren.

He was buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Courtesy of his classmates, United States Military Academy, Class of 1946:
Published Assembly May 2001

No. 15656 * 10 Oct 1924 – 20 Nov 2000
Died at Alexandria, Virginia
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery


BRYCE POE II was born in Wichita, Kansas, but early in life moved to St Louis, Missouri,  with his parents. He graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City, MO. He then attended CO School of Mines before transferring to KS University. While there, he received his appointment to West Point.

Cadet life presented no problems to Bryce. He won the Trophy as the top academy swordsman in 1946. In April of 1945, Bryce opted for Air Cadet Training, and graduated with pilot wings as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

Bryce began a distinguished career in the Air Force that was to last 35 years. He served in Tactical Air Command, Air Training Command, Strategic Air Command, Air Research and Development Command, Far East Air Forces, US Air Forces in Europe, Air Force Logistics Command, Office of the Secretary of the Air force and NATO. He flew most fighter and reconnaissance aircraft from P-51 to F-15 plus foreign fighters and administrative aircraft.

Bryce flew combat missions in both the Korean War and Vietnam. Just prior to the Korean War, while in Japan, he flew 19 special long-range jet reconnaissance missions to classified targets for which he received his first Distinguished Flying Cross. When the Korean War broke out, Bryce flew the first ever USAF jet reconnaissance mission. He flew 90 RF-80A combat missions in Korea. In September of 1950, Bryce's West Point roommate, Marshall (Rojo) Williams, a fellow pilot in the 8th Tac Recon Sqd failed to return from a combat mission into enemy territory. Bryce prepared the memorial article for Assembly for his treasured friend. He flew 213 combat missions in Vietnam including 200 in the RF-4C Phantom.

Bryce was a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the National War College. While on active duty he earned a Masters in History from the University of Nebraska and a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.

As a senior Air Force Commander, he served in several AF command positions culminating his career when he received his fourth star as Commander, AF Logistics Command, Wright Patterson AFB, OH from 1978 until his retirement in 1981.

In retirement, he simultaneously did both contract work for various corporations (none having anything to do with USAF due to his last assignment) and unpaid work for the government. His real labor of love was his work as President of the Air Force Historical Foundation.

On 20 November 2000, Bryce died following a stroke. Survivors include his wife, Kari; son, Bryce III and his son Bryce IV; daughter Susan Dickson, husband Scott, and their daughter, Miranda; daughter, Karen Watts, husband Paul, and their daughter Kari and son Braden.

How and where do you start to write about a man, classmate, friend who had such a brilliant career and accomplished so much? Perhaps the remembrances of those who knew and loved him plus his own evaluation of his life can best provide an insight into Bryce Poe.

AF classmate, Kent Berge wrote to Kari: ” We are among the host of friends who will be celebrating Bryce's life and Eternal, Ultimate Adventure. He lived a life of sound preparation, splendid service to our nation and he had lots of fun and spread joy along the way. He had lots of help from you.”

Daughter, Karen, remembered: “Dad told us he would go to the flight line in the middle of the night, without letting folks know who he was, to see how he was treated. He wanted to make sure everyone was treated fairly. That is something I will always remember about him. He never pulled his rank, and made sure that he always stayed grounded by knowing what was going on at the lowest level. He was truly one in a million.”

Daughter, Susan, delivered a eulogy at the service. Excerpts say much about Bryce: “Someone said, ‘Your father wasn't just a good man; he was a great man.' And I truly believe he was.

“First and foremost in his heart was Kari. They were a team helping and supporting each other in all aspects of their lives.

“He was a man who would risk everything for what he believed was right and for those he loved.

“Dad, you are in a better place now – flying those missions with Rojo, shaking your dad's hand and giving your mom a big hug. Your life and legacy will live on through those who love you.”

Sometime ago, Bryce was asked to provide the character traits that best described his life and then, how he wanted to be remembered. His response is indicative of his greatness: “Concern and respect for those I worked, flew and fought alongside and a sense of mission. Never transferred a problem to another commander and tried to set an example.
“I never played political games nor backed away from a confrontation for fear of hurting my career. I never wanted to do anything else and after retirement kept busy but missed active duty every day.

” I never envied anybody, and I think I gave it my best shot. I'm, afraid as I sit in retirement someone will say, ‘gentlemen, join your regiments and I'm going to miss it. I can't figure out any way not to go.”

The country, the Air Force and the Class of 1946 have lost a great man. His classmates join together to utter the words that Bryce would most like to hear: “Well Done, Bryce; Be Thou At Peace!”


Courtesy of the United States Air Force

Retired July 31, 1981, Died Nov. 20, 2000

General Bryce Poe II was commander of the Air Force Logistics Command with headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The command mission is to provide worldwide technical logistics support to all Air Force active and reserve force activities, military assistance program countries and designated U.S. government agencies.

General Poe was born in 1924, in Wichita, Kansas. He attended the Colorado School of Mines, Golden; the University of Kansas, Lawrence; and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. N.Y., in 1946. He completed Army Air Forces pilot training prior to graduation from the academy. He received a master of arts degree in history from the University of Omaha, Neb., in 1964 and a master of science degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1965. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va., and the National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.

From November 1946 to September 1948, General Poe was a member of one of the first jet-equipped units in the U.S. Air Force and flew in more than 80 air shows demonstrating the new aircraft. He then transferred to Japan and was assigned to the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, which was equipped with RF-80s.

At the beginning of the Korean War, he transferred to South Korea and flew 90 combat missions including the first U.S. Air Force jet reconnaissance sortie. He returned to the United States and, from January to April 1951, was assigned to a Strategic Air Command fighter escort squadron at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas. He then transferred to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., as commander of a reconnaissance replacement training unit.

General Poe was assigned to Allied Forces Northern Europe, Oslo, Norway, in August 1952 as a fighter operations officer flying Vampires, Meteors, F-84s and F-86s with the Royal Norwegian and Royal Danish air forces. He returned to the United States in July 1956 and served as aide and then executive officer to General B.A. Schriever, commander, Air Force Western Development Division, Inglewood, Calif.

In August 1959 he entered the Armed Forces Staff College. After graduation in January 1960, he went to Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as operations officer of an Atlas D squadron. In October 1961 he transferred to SAC headquarters as a missile plans officer and later as chief, Missile Plans Section, Operations and Training Division. In August 1964 General Poe entered the National War College. Following his graduation in July 1965, he served as chief, Plans Group, Office of Legislative Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. He transferred to Bergstrom Air Force Base in July 1967 as vice commander of the 75th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

The general went to Southeast Asia in July 1968 as vice commander, 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. During this tour of duty, he flew 213 combat missions, 200 in RF-40s.

From July 1969 to July 1970, General Poe was commander of the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. In July 1970 he assumed duties as deputy chief of staff, logistics, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany.

General Poe became commander of the Ogden Air Materiel Area (now Ogden Air Logistics Center) at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, in February 1973. In June 1974 he returned to Germany as vice commander in chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein Air Base.

He was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in July 1976 as commander of the Air Force Acquisition Logistics Division. General Poe assumed his current duties in February 1978.

The general is a command pilot and wears the Master Missile Badge. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters; Bronze Star Medal; Air Medal with 19 oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Presidential Unit Citation emblem with two oak leaf clusters; Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with oak leaf cluster; Combat Readiness Medal; American Campaign Medal; Army of Occupation Medal (Japan); National Defense Service Medal with service star; Korean Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with two service stars; Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with eight oak leaf clusters; Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon; Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal 1st Class; Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit, Tong-Il (South Korea); Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (1st Class, Knight Grand Cross) (Thailand); Grand Cross of Aeronautic Merit with Distinctive White (Spain); State King Faisal Medal 1st Degree (Saudi Arabia); Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation; United Nations Service Medal; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm; and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

He was promoted to general February 2, 1978.


 Died November 20, 2000, in Alexandria, VA. He is survived by his wife, Kari Rollum Poe; children, Susan Dickson (Scott; daughter, Miranda), Karen Watts (Paul; daughter, Kari; son, Braden), and Bryce III (son, Bryce IV). Memorial services to be held at The Old Post Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery on December 14, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Air Force Historical Foundation, 1535 Command Dr., Suite A-122, Andrews AFB, MD 20762.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 06/04/1946 – 07/31/1981
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/10/1924
  • DATE OF DEATH: 11/20/2000
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 12/14/2000




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