General Lew Allen Dies





General Lew Allen Dies

By Mike Mitchell
General Lew Allen Dies   

January 6, 2010 - General Lew Allen Jr., the 10th chief of staff of the Air Force, passed away January 4, 2010, in Potomac Falls, Va. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made but burial will be in Arlington Cemetery. General Allen, a West Point graduate, entered the Air Force in 1946 and completed multi-engine flight training in November 1946. He flew bombers at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, until he entered the 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. 

Gen. Lew Allen Jr., the 10th chief of staff of the Air Force, passed away Jan. 4 in Potomac Falls, Va.

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. 

After completing multiengine flight training in November 1946, General Allen was assigned to Strategic Air Command's 7th Bombardment Group at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, where he flew B-29 Superfortresses and Convair B-36s, and also served in various positions related to nuclear weaponry. He attended the Air Tactical Course at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and returned to Carswell Air Force Base as an instructor and assistant special weapons officer for the 7th Bombardment Wing. 

In September 1950, he entered the University of Illinois for graduate training in nuclear physics and received a master of science degree in 1952. He earned his doctorate degree in physics in 1954 after completing an experimental thesis on high energy photonuclear reactions. General Allen then was assigned to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico as a physicist in the Test Division, where he became friends with bomb designer Ted Taylor. He conducted experiments in several of the nuclear test series. These experiments related to the physics of thermonuclear weapons design and to the effects of high altitude nuclear explosions for ballistic missile defense.


From June 1957 to December 1961, General Allen was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, as science adviser to the Physics Division of the Air Force Special Weapons Center. He specialized in the military effects of high altitude nuclear explosions and participated in several weapon test series. He was scientific director of a major experiment that utilized a large series of high altitude rockets to measure the characteristics of electrons trapped in the geomagnetic field after an exoatmospheric nuclear burst. 

He was assigned in December 1961, to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Space Technology Office in the Directorate of Research and Engineering, Washington, D.C. From June 1965 to February 1973, he was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, initially in Los Angeles as deputy director for advanced plans in the Directorate of Special Projects. He moved to The Pentagon in June 1968 as deputy director of space systems and in June 1969 became director. He returned to Los Angeles in September 1970 as assistant to the director of special projects and in April 1971 became director of special projects, with additional duty as deputy commander for satellite programs, Space and Missile Systems Organization. 

After serving briefly as chief of staff for Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, General Allen was appointed in March 1973 as deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community in Washington, D.C. In August 1973, he became director, National Security Agency and chief, Central Security Service at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. Allen's tenure as NSA director was noteworthy in that he became the first NSA director to ever testify publicly before Congress. In August 1977, he was named commander of Air Force Systems Command. 

Allen served as the vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force from April 1978 until he became Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force in July 1978. His nomination was unusual in that he had never served an overseas or a combat assignment, and most of his positions were in highly specialized activities rather than in the usual command structure of the Air Force. 

Following retirement from the Air Force in 1982, he became the Director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during the Voyager program, serving in that capacity until 1990. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Council on Foreign Relations. 

From 1993 to 1995, General Allen served as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) and the Intelligence Oversight Board. Allen was awarded the 1999 Distinguished Graduate Award of the Association of Graduates, the alumni association of West Point graduates. 

The United States Air Force has created an award in his honor, the General Lew Allen Jr. Trophy, awarded annually to an Officer and Senior NCO in the aircraft maintenance or munitions career fields directly involved with sortie generation.
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