Retired Sep. 1, 1971.
Lieutenant General Selmon Willard Wells is the inspector general of the U.S. Air Force. He provides the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff an evaluation, through inspections, of the effectiveness of Air Force units and he monitors worldwide safety policies and programs in the interest of accident prevention. He also directs the U.S. Air Force counterintelligence program and is responsible for security policy and criminal investigation within the Air Force.
In December 1941 General Wells entered flying school at Randolph Field, Texas, and in August 1942 received his pilot wings at Foster Field, Texas. He then was assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group at Hunter Field, Ga., and reported there in October 1942. He went with the 312th Bombardment Group to the Southwest Pacific area and served with the group throughout World War II. He was commander of the 389th Bombardment Squadron until August 1944, then became group operations officer, and finally served as group commander. He made 140 low-level combat missions in the A-20 attack bomber aircraft. In November 1945 General Wells went to Japan and was named assistant chief of staff for intelligence for the Fifth Bomber Command Headquarters.
He returned to the United States in July 1946 and was assigned as assistant chief of staff for intelligence for Twelfth Air Force at March Field, Calif. In August 1947 he entered the University of California under the Air Force Institute of Technology program where he studied physics.
General Wells first began serving with Strategic Air Command in September 1949, when he was assigned as operations officer for the 22nd Bombardment Group at March Air Force Base, Calif. He later became deputy commander of the 22nd Bombardment Wing, also at March Air Force Base, where he remained until August 1953. During this period, he flew 17 combat missions over Korea.
In August 1953 General Wells moved to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where he served as deputy commander of the 9th Bombardment Wing. He became commander of the 310th Bombardment Wing at Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kan., in August 1955, and led the unit to top honors in SAC's 1956 bombing evaluation exercises.
General Wells became commander of the 99th Bombardment Wing at Westover Air Force Base, Mass., in July 1956. Under his leadership, the wing was awarded the first Meritorious Achievement Award for flying safety to be won by a B-52 unit.
In July 1958 he became commander of the 42nd Bombardment Wing at Loring Air Force Base, Maine, and during his command the wing won first place in the heavy bomber class of SAC's 1958 bombing and navigation competition. In November 1958 he was named commander of SAC's largest air division, the 45th, upon its reactivation at Loring Air Force Base.
In July 1960 he became SAC's inspector general and remained there until July 1963, when he was transferred to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as commander of the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division. He became deputy commander of the Eighth Air Force at Westover Air Force Base in October 1965.
General Wells assumed duties as commander of the 3rd Air Division at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in July 1967 and became deputy chief of staff, operations, Strategic Air Command, in June 1968. He flew B-52 and KC-135 combat missions in support of the South Vietnam war. General Wells was assigned as the inspector general of the Air Force in March 1969.
His military decorations include both the Army and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters and Purple Heart. He is rated as a command pilot and is currently qualified in the B-52 and KC-135 jet aircraft. He has logged 10,000 hours of flying time.