Retired Sep. 1, 1973. Died Feb. 17, 1992.
Lieutenant General Eugene Bernard (Ben) LeBailly is chairman, Inter-American Defense Board, Washington, D.C. In this office, he represents the board before the governments of the American states. The mission of the board is to act as the organ of preparation and recommendation for the collective self-defense of the American continent against aggression and it is affiliated with the Organization of American States.
A native of Idaho, General LeBailly was born in Shoshone in 1915, and attended high school at Pocatello, where he graduated in 1932. He attended Idaho State University and then moved to the University of California at Berkeley where he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1939. The same year, he attended U.S. Army Air Corps flying training schools at Randolph and Kelly fields, Texas, and earned his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in March 1940.
His pre-Pearl Harbor assignments were as a pilot at Mitchel Field, N.Y., Panama, and Trinidad, British West Indies. He was on duty with the 1st Bombardment Squadron, 9th Bombardment Group at Trinidad when World War II began. He was then transferred to Ecuador and Peru where he flew heavy bombers on sea-search missions in protection of the Panama Canal. In February 1943 he was named commander of the 7th Bombardment Squadron at Blythe Army Air Base, Calif., and later became deputy commander of the 34th Bombardment Group at the same location. In early 1944 he went with the 34th Group to England for combat duty with the Eighth Air Force and later became group commander. He participated in five of the major air campaigns against Germany.
After World War II, General LeBailly commanded bases at Boise, Idaho, and Walla Walla, Wash., as well as a Reserve Training Center at Offutt Field, Neb. He graduated from the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in June 1948, and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force and then to the Office of the Secretary of Defense on liaison duty with national organizations. In 1951 he attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base.
In August 1952 General LeBailly went to Korea where he flew 50 combat missions in B-26 night intruder bombers as commander of the 3d Bombardment Wing. He moved into Far East Air Forces Headquarters in Japan in August 1953 and was in charge of the American-Japanese Planning Group when the Japan Air Self-Defense Force was formed in 1954. He eventually became chief of the Air Force section of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Japan.
General LeBailly returned to the United States in July 1955 as chief of information services for Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va. After three years he returned to Washington, D.C., as deputy director of the Office of Information under the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.
From August 1961 to January 1964, General LeBailly was commander of both the U.S. Forces Azores and the 1605th Air Base Wing at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. In 1964 he became director of information for the U.S. Air Force. General LeBailly held this key assignment until August 1967 when he was chosen as commander of the Sixteenth Air Force in Spain with responsibility for all U.S. Air Force units in that country as well as Italy, Greece, Turkey and Libya.
General LeBailly assumed duties as chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington, D.C., Aug. 1, 1970.
With combat service in two wars and sensitive high-level peacetime assignments, General LeBailly has earned a number of decorations, including two Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, seven Air Medals, and awards from France, Korea, Spain, Brazil and the United Nations.