Louis Theodore Seith – General, United States Air Force

March 8, 2007:

We regret to inform you that General Louis T. Seith, former Academy Commandant of Cadets from June 1965-Nov 1967, passed away on  March 6, 2007. General Seith was a much admired commandant and was at the Academy during the difficult years of the war in Southeast Asia.


His leadership directly resulted in the outstanding service of Academy graduates during that conflict. He was a true gentleman and will be missed.  A Memorial Service will be at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer, Virginia, on March 21, 2007 at 9 a.m.


Retired July 31, 1977

General Louis Theodore Seith was the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, with headquarters at Shape, Belgium.

General Seith was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1921, received his secondary education in San Diego, California, and graduated from Brown Military Academy, Pacific Beach, California, in 1938. He entered the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1939, where he played varsity football and graduated with a bachelor of science degree and a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943. He attended flying school while at the academy and received his pilot wings in 1942.

After graduation he entered B-17 flight training and later joined the 483d Bombardment Group at Tampa, Florida. He commanded the 840th Bombardment Squadron when the group went to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, in March 1944, and became group operations officer in January 1945. He participated in the campaigns of Rome-Arno, Po Valley, Rhineland, North Apennines, Central Europe, Northern France, Southern France and Southern Europe. He flew 52 combat missions during his World War II service.

General Seith returned to the United States in August 1945 and was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy as a physics instructor. In 1948 he was assigned to Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, first as aide to Lieutenant General Elwood “Pete” Quesada and later as a member of the TAC staff. During this period he attended the Air Tactical School.

From July 1950 to August 1953, he was an aircraft accident investigator and flight safety research plans and policy officer with the deputy inspector general, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He left this assignment to attend the Air Command and Staff School which he completed in December 1953.

During the next three and one-half years, he served with the Far East Air Forces, first with the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron in Japan and later as director of fighter bomber operations, Headquarters Japan Air Defense Force. He ended the tour of duty in Japan as director of plans, Headquarters Fifth Air Force.

He joined the staff of the U.S. Air Force Academy in June 1957 as operations and training officer to the commandant of cadets, and became deputy commandant two years later. He left this assignment to attend the National War College, and following graduation in June 1961, he assumed command of the 414th Fighter Group, Oxnard Air Force Base, Calif. In July 1963 he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as deputy director of education and training in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff For Personnel. He returned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in July 1965 and was appointed commandant of cadets.

In December 1967 he became chief of staff, Headquarters Seventh Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Airfield, Republic of Vietnam. He assumed duties as deputy commander, Seventh Air Force/Thirteenth Air Force, in June 1968. General Seith became commander, U.S. Military Assistance Group, Thailand, and chief, Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group, Thailand, in May 1969.

General Seith joined the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in August 1971 as vice director, J-3 (operations), and in July 1972 was named director for plans and policy (J-5).

In August 1974 General Seith was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe as chief of staff.

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross; Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force design) with two oak leaf clusters; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster; French Croix de Guerre with palm; from the Republic of Vietnam the Air Force Distinguished Service Order, 1st Class, and Air Gallantry Medal with Golden Wing; and from Thailand the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, Second Class-Knight Commander. He is a command pilot with more than 4,300 flying hours including 261 combat hours during World War II. He is a qualified parachutist, having completed the course in May 1966.

General Seith's hometown is Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

He was promoted to the grade of general effective August 1, 1974, with same date of rank.

General Louis ‘Ted' Seith, 86; Air Force Veteran of 3 Wars

Friday, March 9, 2007
Courtesy of the Washington Post

Louis T. “Ted” Seith, 86, a four-star Air Force General and highly decorated combat veteran who retired in 1977 as chief of staff of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, died March 6, 2007, at the Falcons Landing retirement community in Sterling after several strokes.


General Seith flew 52 combat missions over Europe during World War II. In the 1960s, he became the No. 2 leader at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and was a leading figure in the air war against the North Vietnamese. He was chief of staff at SHAPE, headquartered in Belgium, from 1974 until he retired.

He settled in the Washington area and spent about 15 years as executive director of the Air Force Aid Society, a charitable organization.

Louis Theodore Seith was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, and raised in San Diego. His father served in the Army edical Corps.

He graduated from Brown Military Academy in Pacific Beach, Calif., in 1938 and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in January 1943. He played varsity football and attended flying school at West Point.

He joined the Army Air Forces upon graduation and trained in flying B-17s. He became group commander of a bomber squadron in the 483d Bombardment Group and participated in campaigns throughout Italy, France and elsewhere in Southern Europe.

He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor, for leading a successful mission to destroy an airdrome and installations at Memmingen, Germany, in July 1944.

More than 200 Nazi fighters reportedly attacked General Seith and his formation of 26 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers. Fourteen of his planes were shot down as they destroyed 65 of the attacking fighters, according to an Associated Press dispatch.

During the Korean War, he served in the Far East Air Forces and participated in reconnaissance work before becoming director of fighter bomber operations.

He graduated from the National War College in 1961 and held a series of command positions before serving as commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy from 1965 to 1967.

He went to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and served successively as chief of staff for the 7th Air Force at Tan Son Nhut Airfield in Vietnam; deputy commander of the 7th Air Force and 13th Air Force; commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Group in Thailand; and chief of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in Thailand.

In the early 1970s, he held ranking positions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington.

Besides the Distinguished Service Cross, his decorations included three awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross and five awards of the Air Medal.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Marjorie Easterly Seith of Falcons Landing; two children, retired Air Force Colonel James Seith of Annandale and Susan Compton of Woodbridge; five grandchildren; and three great-granddaughters.

SEITH, LOUIS THEODORE, General, United States Air Force, died on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at his residence in Falcons Landing, Potomac Falls, Virginia.

Ted was born on January 17, 1921 in Quincy, Massachusetts, to the late Frederick and Mildred Andrews Seith.

Ted was the beloved husband of 64 years of Marjorie E. Seith; loving and devoted father of James Seith and his wife Alberta of Annandale, Virginia, Susan Compton and her husband Lacey of Woodbridge, Virginia; proud grandfather of Brian, James, Stefanie, Kristin and Stacy; great-grandfather of Keely, Mackenzie and Brenna.

Funeral services will be held at Fort Myer Old Post Chapel on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 9 a.m. Interment will immediately follow with Full Military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions should be made in the name of General Louis T. Seith, West Point, January, 1943 to the United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates, Class Fund, January 1943, 3116 Academy Drive, USAF, Colorado 80840-4475 or the United States Military Academy Association, 698 Mills Road, West Point, New York 10996 or Camp Knickerbocker, The Booth Bay Harbor YMCA, 261 Townsend, Box 500, Booth Bay Harbor, Maine 04538.

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