Lewis N. Ellis – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report

Lewis N. Ellis, 83, a retired Washington stockbroker and Air Force lieutenant colonel who was a highly decorated combat veteran of World War II, died March 18, 1999 at Georgetown University Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Bethesda, Maryland.

During World War II, Colonel Ellis flew a B-24 “Liberator” bomber with the Army Air Forces. For his actions as a pilot in the historic raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields in August 1943, he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's highest award for valor except for the Medal of Honor.

The gigantic air armada took off from bases in Libya to strike deep into Romania, where it attempted to destroy a giant refinery network that was producing huge amounts of petroleum products for Germany. The operation was dubbed “Operation Tidal Wave.”

The planes flew over the Mediterranean, over the mountains of Albania and then over Bulgaria before dropping to under 500 feet in an attempt to evade enemy detection over Romania. The Americans did not achieve surprise but pressed home their attacks. Of the 177 bombers that took part in the raid, 54 were lost to the enemy.

After the war, Colonel Ellis served as an attache in London before retiring from active duty in 1951. He settled in the Washington area in 1952 and worked until retiring in 1987 as a broker with Merrill Lynch.

He was a member of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington.

Colonel Ellis, a Tennessee native, was a graduate of the University of Chattanooga. Before World War II, he had worked for a telephone company and as a stockbroker and had flown airplanes as a hobby.

Survivors include his wife, Harriet, of Bethesda; three daughters, Marguerite Lyeth of Gaithersburg, Elizabeth Christian of Rockville and Linda Susan Picasso of Potomac; a sister; and five grandchildren. A son, Robert Lewis Ellis, died in 1977.


On Thursday, March 18, 1999, LEWIS N. ELLIS, husband of Harriet E. Ellis. He is also survived by three children, one sister and five grandchildren. Friends may call at JOSEPH GAWLER'S SONS, 5130 Wisconsin Avenue at Harrison Street, NW, on Sunday, March 28, from 2 to 4 p.m., where services will be held on Monday, March 29, at 1 p.m. Interment Arlington National Cemetery.

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment