Military Bios

Chaplain (Major General) Edwin R. Chess:

Military Branch:United States Airforce
Retired Aug. 1, 1970.  
Chaplain (Major General) Edwin Ralph Chess is chief of chaplains, U.S. Air Force. He serves on the special staff of the chief of staff, U.S. Air Force; advises the chief of staff on matters pertaining to the religious and moral welfare of a11 Air Force personnel; is responsible to the chief of staff for establishing plans, policies, programs and requirements for an effective total chaplain program for Air Force personnel and their dependents in the areas of: personnel, procurement, manpower, training, professional programs, ecclesiastical and public relations, chapel and chaplain materiel, funds and religious facilities.
Chaplain Chess was born in Chicago, Ill., in 1913. He graduated from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Ill., with a bachelor of arts degree. He was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church April 3, 1937, by the late Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago, and served as an assistant pastor in the Archdiocese of Chicago until March 3, 1942. On Dec. 24, 1962, His Holiness Pope John XXIII appointed Chaplain Chess a domestic prelate with the title of right reverend monsignor.
Appointed chaplain, first lieutenant, in the U.S. Army Reserve Jan. 26, 1942, he entered active military service in March 1942 and attended the Chaplain School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. His first assignment was with the 47th Bombardment Group at Will Rogers Field, Okla. He served with that unit in England; North Africa; Malta; Sicily; Corsica; Italy; and France from March 1942 to October 1944. Chaplain Chess received the Air Medal for meritorious achievement while assigned to the 47th Bombardment Group.
His next assignment was to Twelfth Air Force as chaplain, 57th Bombardment Wing, from October 1944 to March 1945 and as assistant staff chaplain, Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, until the cessation of hostilities in the European Theater of Operations and the inactivation of the Twelfth Air Force.
In March 1946, Chaplain Chess was separated from military service and returned to the Archdiocese of Chicago. He attended De Paul University, Chicago, Ill., for post-graduate work in education and served as assistant pastor at St. Benedict's Church, Blue Island, Ill. and St. Bridget's Church, Chicago, Ill., until his recall to extended active duty in August 1948 and subsequent assignment to the 3565th Air Base Wing, Waco, Texas.
Following this assignment, he was assigned to the Twentieth Air Force on Okinawa in March 1950. In May 1951, he was reassigned to the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Korea. Later, as assistant staff chaplain, Headquarters Fifth Air Force, Korea, Chaplain Chess was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Returning to the continental United States in January 1952, he became the wing chaplain at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. In June 1952, Chaplain Chess was assigned to the 3525th Pilot Training Wing, Williams Air Force Base, Ariz. In September 1953, he was reassigned as deputy staff chaplain and later as staff chaplain, Air Training Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
Following his four years of stateside assignments, Chaplain Chess was assigned as staff chaplain, Spain Air Materiel Area, Seville, Spain, from April 1956 to December 1956 and as staff chaplain, 7602nd Air Base Group, Seville Spain from January 1957 to July 1957. In July 1957, he was assigned as deputy staff chaplain of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Wiesbaden, Germany. While assigned in Europe, Chaplain Chess was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service during the period July 1957 to May 1959.
In 1959, he was assigned as staff chaplain, Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, Waco, Texas. In May 1959, he was integrated into the regular Air Force. On May 1, 1961, Chaplain Chess was named command chaplain, U.S. Air Force Security Service, San Antonio, Texas, and Sept. 1, he was appointed as deputy chief of chaplains, U.S. Air Force. He was named chief of chaplains, U.S. Air Force Aug. 1, 1966, his present assignment, and was promoted to the grade of major general Nov. 1, 1966.
On Jan. 1, 1967, Chaplain Chess was appointed chairman for the Armed Forces Chaplains Board, Department of Defense, as an additional duty.
His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.


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