Roscoe Charles Wilson was born in Centralia, Pa., in 1905. On graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1928, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Regular Army. In September he began flying training at Brooks Field, Texas, and in November 1929 he was awarded his wings at the Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, and transferred to the Air Corps.
General Wilson's first tactical assignment was to the First Observation Squadron at Mitchel Field, N.Y. In July 1932 he began his service in the technical and scientific fields when he entered the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright-Patterson, Field, Ohio. Graduating a year later, he was assigned to the Aircraft Branch as the project officer on the B-15 (forerunner of the B-17) and the B-19. He returned to the U.S. Military Academy in June 1937 as an instructor in science (then called natural and experimental philosophy).
Entering the Air Corps Tactical School in May 1939, the general graduated a year later. He returned to West Point for one year and then was reassigned to Wright-Patterson Field for duty in the Experimental Engineering Section. In February 1942 he joined the Engineering Division of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field.
Transferred to Air Force Headquarters the following January (1943), General Wilson was assigned to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Materiel, Maintenance and Distribution. On June 1, 1943 he was appointed Army Air Force project officer to support the Manhattan Engineering Division. In this post he was one of the first officers involved in the development of the atom bomb. He chose the site of the first test (Alamogordo, N.M.)
In December 1944 General Wilson was named chief of staff of the 316th Bomb Wing at Colorado Springs, Colo., and participated in the campaign against Japan when the wing moved to Okinawa.
In August 1945 the general returned to Air Force headquarters where he served in a succession of staff assignments: Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Materiel and Supply, the Office of the Deputy Commander of the Air Force, and Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development.
General Wilson was designated in July 1947 Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. This military agency was responsible for atomic weapons. In this post he had the additional duties of Air Force representative to the military liaison committee between the Defense Department and the Atomic Energy Commission and a member of the Committee on Atomic Energy to the Research and Development Board. Named assistant deputy chief of staff, operations, for Atomic Energy in February 1950, the general was transferred from the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project to Headquarters U.S. Air Force. General Wilson continued to serve as Air Force member of the Military Liaison Committee and Research and Development Board.
In October 1951 General Wilson was designated commandant of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
Going overseas in May 1954, the general became a tactical commander when he assumed command of the Third Air Force in the United Kingdom. He was given the additional duty on Nov. 1, 1956 of chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group for the United Kingdom.
In July 1957 General Wilson returned to the United States. On Aug. 1, 1957 he took up duties in the scientific and technical field when he was assigned as Air Force member, Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Development).
On July 1, 1958 he was assigned as deputy chief of staff, development, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and promoted to temporary lieutenant general.
In a reorganization of July 1, 1961, the Deputy Chief of Staff/Development, gave up the Systems Development function and was redesignated Deputy Chief of Staff/Research and Technology to reflect a greater emphasis upon advanced technology, as well as basic and applied research. As deputy chief of staff/research and technology, General Wilson is responsible for the research and technology program of the Air Force.
His decorations include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters. He is rated a command pilot and senior aircraft observer.
He was promoted to first lieutenant (permanent) Feb. 1, 1934; to captain (permanent) July 9, 1938; to major (temporary) Feb. 1, 1941; to lieutenant colonel (temporary) Jan. 5, 1942; to colonel (permanent) April 2, 1948; to brigadier general (temporary April 10, 1948; to brigadier general, (permanent) Jan. 27, 1950; to major general (temporary) Aug. 11, 1950; to major general (permanent) April 7, 1954; to lieutenant general (temporary) July 1, 1958.