Gen. Lew Allen dies

  • Published
Gen. Lew Allen Jr., the 10th chief of staff of the Air Force, passed away Jan. 4 in Potomac Falls, Va. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made but burial will be in Arlington Cemetery.

"General Allen was a visionary leader for our Air Force, a devoted husband and father, and a respected gentleman," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff.  "His professional impact reverberated throughout all the mission areas in which he served -- bombers, missiles, space and intelligence -- and his leadership and tenacity drove lasting changes in our Air Force from which we still benefit today. Throughout his remarkable life, General Allen's kind manner and powerful insight profoundly affected the lives of his family, friends and colleagues. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Barbara and his family during this difficult time."

General Allen, a West Point graduate, was commissioned in 1946 and completed multi-engine flight training in November 1946. He flew bombers at Fort Worth Army Airfield, later renamed Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, until he entered a master's program at the University of Illinois in 1950.

In 1952 he received a Master of Science degree in nuclear physics and went on to earn a doctorate in physics in 1954. He spent the next 19 years working in the scientific community, involved with some of the nation's most sensitive space projects. For that work he was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame Aug. 8, 2007, at Peterson AFB, Colo.

On his way to becoming the chief of staff of the Air Force, General Allen held a number of intelligence positions including director of the National Security Agency, chief of the Central Security Service and commander of Air Force Systems Command. He was appointed chief of staff in July 1978. During his tenure, he oversaw the establishment of Air Force Space Command.

Following his retirement in July 1982, he became director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory National Aeronautics and Space Administration center in Pasadena, Calif., and remained in that position until 1990.

An award has been established in his honor that is presented annually to a base-level officer and senior NCO in aircraft, munitions or missile maintenance directly involved in aircraft sortie generation. According to officials, the award was established as a tribute to General Allen's legacy of attention to detail and technical expertise, attributes reflected in the nominees honored with the award bearing his name.