Retired April 30, 1967. Died June 12, 2004.
Ivan Wilson McElroy was born in 1913 in Austin, Texas.
General McElroy received his formal schooling in the Austin public schools, graduating from Austin High School in February 1929. From 1929 through 1933 he studied aeronautical engineering as a student at the University of Texas. During this period he served as a member of Infantry and Cavalry units of the Texas National Guard.
Entering the U.S. Military Academy in July 1933, he was, in June 1937, commissioned a second lieutenant in the field artillery. He entered the Air Corps Flying School and subsequently graduated at Kelly Field, Texas, in October 1938. Transferred to the Air Corps, he was assigned to the 20th Pursuit Group at Barksdale Field, La.
In May of 1941 he was assigned as the group operations officer of the 51st Pursuit Group and accompanied this group to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations in January 1942. In 1943 and 1944, while operating out of jungle strips in Assam, he commanded the "Burma Banshees" or the 80th Fighter Group, which harassed Japanese activity along the fabled Burma Road and throughout North Burma. It was this group that, on March 27, 1944, intercepted a Japanese raid of 15 bombers and 25 fighters, shot down all 25 fighters and 14 of the 15 attacking bombers without loss of a single airplane or pilot. In the fall of 1944, he returned to the United States.
During the succeeding few years, he commanded fighter bases at Hillsgrove, R.I.; Suffolk Air Base, Long Island, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
In 1946, he was assigned as senior instructor for the 63rd Air National Guard Wing at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas, and served in this capacity until he entered the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in August 1948. Upon graduation, he was assigned as chief, Air Force Plans Branch, War Plans Division, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In August of 1952, he entered the National War College, Washington, D.C. On graduation in 1953, he again went overseas and served initially as assistant chief of staff for plans and operations with the Third Air Force in England. In 1955, he was assigned as commander of the 81st Fighter Bomber Wing at Bentwaters, England. During his tenure as commander, his wing won the special weapons delivery competition at the Air Force Fighter Weapons Meet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
On return to the United States, he commanded the 49th Tactical Air Division at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, and later the 834th Tactical Air Division at England Air Force Base, La.
During June 1960 he was transferred to Headquarters 12th Air Force for duty as deputy for operations, prior to his assignment to the Recruiting Service in September 1961.
Rated a command pilot, General McElroy holds the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Commendation Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, and the Presidential Unit Citation.