Retired Nov. 1, 1973.
Lieutenant General Alvan C. Gillem II, commander of Air University, is on his third tour of duty at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., the educational center of the U.S. Air Force.
General Gillem, who became 12th commander of Air University Aug. 1, 1970, graduated in 1948 from what was then the Air Command and Staff School, and returned in 1953 to attend the Air War College. On completing that course, he was assigned as deputy commandant, Command and Staff School, Air Command and Staff College, moving up to commandant in 1956.
General Gillem is the son of Lieutenant General Alvan C. Gillem, Jr., who before his retirement in August 1950 served three years as commanding general of the Third U.S. Army at Fort McPherson, Ga. The elder General Gillem now resides in Atlanta, Ga.
Born in Nogales, Ariz., in 1917, General Gillem enlisted in the Army at Fort Monroe, Va., in 1935, and received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy the following year. On his graduation in 1940, he entered pilot training and won his wings in March 1941. For two years, during which he rose to major, he served as a flying instructor in Texas.
In April 1943 he went overseas as a staff officer at headquarters of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces in North Africa, transferring later that year to the 31st Fighter Group. Flying the British Spitfire and the American P-51 Mustang, he was credited with destroying three enemy planes in aerial combat.
Promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1944, he returned to the United States a month later to serve in the Plans Division at Headquarters Army Air Forces in Washington, D.C. In March 1946 he was a member of the original cadre to set up the Strategic Air Command with headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. After graduating from Air Command and Staff School in 1948, he was assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. In July 1950 he was promoted to colonel and assigned to Turner Air Force Base, Ga., as deputy commander of the 31st Fighter Wing with which he had served in Italy. In March 1951 he was named commander of the 108th Fighter Bomber Wing there.
In December 1951 General Gillem went to England as Commander, Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford, a part of SAC's 7th Air Division. He came home to attend the Air War College in 1953 and remained at Maxwell Air Force Base until July 1957. Then he returned to SAC as commander of the 380th Bombardment Wing at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y.
Promoted to brigadier general in May 1961, he moved up to command SAC's 820th Air Division at Plattsburgh, N.Y., and in September 1961 was assigned to Westover Air Force Base, Mass., as commander of the 57th Air Division. In July 1963 he became commander of the 823d Air Division at Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., where a month later he was promoted to major general.
Transferred to SAC headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., in May 1964 as deputy director of operations, General Gillem was named director of operations (later redesignated as deputy chief of staff, operations) in July 1965.
In June 1968, upon promotion to lieutenant general, he took over the 3d Air Division at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, where for the following 26 months he commanded SAC's B-52 and KC-135 forces operating in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. In April 1970 the 3d Air Division was redesignated the Eighth Air Force, which he commanded until entering on his present assignment in August 1970.
Rated a command pilot, his military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster and the Air Medal with 15 oak leaf clusters.