Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Colonel Chuck DeBellevue 1945-

Colonel Chuck DeBellevue was the first U.S. Air Force weapons systems officer to become an ace during the Vietnam War in 1972. DeBellevue became America ’s top "MiG Killer" when he and his pilot, Capt. John Madden, downed two MiGs, giving him six in total, the most earned during the Vietnam War.

He was born in New Orleans and grew up in Louisiana . Commissioned through ROTC in 1968, he completed undergraduate navigator training at Mather Air Force Base, Calif. , in July 1969. He began F-4 combat crew training at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. , en route to an assignment with the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.

In October 1971, he was sent to the 555th TFS at Udorn Royal Thai Air Base. As a WSO with the "Triple Nickel," DeBellevue scored his first four aerial victories while crewed with Capt. Steve Ritchie, who became the first USAF Vietnam War ace. DeBellevue became the second when he downed two MiGs on Sept. 9, 1972 while flying with Madden on a four-ship combat air patrol.

During his combat tour, DeBellevue logged 550 combat hours while flying 220 combat missions. His skill as a WSO was recognized when he and the other two U.S. Air Force aces, Ritchie and Capt. Jeff Feinstein, received the 1972 Mackay Trophy, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Armed Forces Award and the Eugene M. Zuckert Achievement Award.

DeBellevue entered pilot training at Williams AFB, Ariz. , in November 1972. After pinning on his new wings, he returned to the F-4 Phantom II as a pilot assigned to the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman AFB, N.M. In 1975, he moved to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska , where he served as an assistant operations officer in the 43th TFS. He was the 5th Air Force deputy chief of staff, at Yokota AB , Japan , then was assigned as commander of the 95th Air Base Wing, Edwards AFB, Calif. , until 1995.

He retired from active duty as commander of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 440, University of Missouri-Columbia , Columbia Mo. , in January 1998, after 30 years of military service.

He retired with numerous awards, including the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters, among others