Died March 12,2013
Major General Billy J. Ellis is vice commander of 9th Air Force, Tactical Air Command, with headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
General Ellis is a 1951 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., and has a master's degree in business administration from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. He is also a graduate of Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College, both at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
He is a command pilot with more than 7,300 flying hours, including 280 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, flying F-4s, F-84s and F-105s. He also flew additional combat missions in B-52s and combat support missions in KC-135s. General Ellis flew with the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force aerial demonstration team. He has held positions of responsibility throughout the Air Force and is the only officer ever to hold the positions of operations officer for Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command and Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation emblem and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon. He has earned the parachutist and missile badges.
After graduation from the academy, he entered basic pilot training at Greenville Air Force Base, Miss. This was followed by advanced pilot training at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas, where he received his pilot wings in June 1952. He then attended fighter gunnery school at Orlando Air Force Base, Fla.
In December 1952 General Ellis was assigned to South Korea with the 8th Fighter-Bomber Squadron and accumulated 253 combat hours in F-84s. Upon his return to the United States in September 1953, he was assigned as flight commander and gunnery instructor with the 3604th Flying Training Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
While at Luke he was selected to fly with the Thunderbirds in May 1955 and was an original member of the world's first supersonic aerobatic team when the team received the F-100 aircraft in 1956.
General Ellis joined the 3597th Combat Crew Training Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as a gunnery instructor in February 1957 and later attended Squadron Officer School. In August 1957 he was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., where he served for three years with the 5th Cadet Squadron as air officer commanding.
He returned to flying duties in October 1960 as an F-100 pilot and later served as assistant operations officer with the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. In 1961 his unit became the first overseas squadron to transition to F-105s.
The general entered Air Command and Staff College in August 1963. While there he also earned his master's degree from The George Washington University.
In July 1964 General Ellis was assigned to Langley Air Force Base, Va., as an F-105 flight examiner and assistant chief, Jet Flight Branch, with the 4450th Standardization Evaluation Group. During this assignment he went to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, with the first F-105 unit from Tactical Air Command. After 51 combat missions he returned to Langley in November 1965 and was assigned to Headquarters Tactical Air Command in the Directorate of Operations as F-105 weapon systems project officer. When the command began to enlarge its training capability as a result of Southeast Asia operations, he was assigned as chief, Combat Crew Training Branch. In August 1967 he entered the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Following graduation General Ellis joined the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in September 1968 as chief, Combat Operations, and later became assistant deputy commander for operations. He again was involved in an organizational aircraft change when the wing converted two squadrons to the F-4. While serving there he flew 159 combat missions in F-4s and F-105s and accumulated 388 combat flying hours.
In August 1969 General Ellis become assistant for general officer matters in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He then assumed command of the 40th Air Division, Strategic Air Command, with headquarters at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich., in February 1972.
He returned to Thailand in February 1973 as commander of the 17th Air Division at U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield. The division was engaged in air operations in Southeast Asia, flying B-52 bombers, KC-135 tankers, U-2s, C-130 drones and reconnaissance aircraft. This tour brought his combat time to more than 660 hours.
General Ellis was assigned to SAC headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in November 1973 as deputy chief of staff, personnel, and in July 1974 became deputy chief of staff, operations. In July 1975 he was appointed director of operations and readiness in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He became the deputy inspector general, U.S. Air Force, in August 1976.
The general became deputy chief of staff, operations, Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base in August 1977. He assumed his present duties in March 1979.
He was promoted to major general Oct. 1, 1973, with date of rank Feb. 1, 1971.
His hometown is Baton Rouge, La.
(Current as of December 1980)