Retired Dec. 1, 1973. Died Sep. 4, 1994.
Major General Levi R. Chase is vice commander, Ninth Air Force, TAC, with headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
General Chase was born in Cortland, N.Y., in 1917. He graduated from Cortland High School, in 1936, and attended Syracuse University, N.Y., from 1937 through 1940. He entered active military duty in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet in February 1941, and graduated from advanced flying training at Maxwell Field, Ala., with his commission as second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and pilot wings in September 1941.
He then was assigned to the 8th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), Mitchel Field, N.Y., as a pilot. He joined the 58th Pursuit Squadron, 33d Pursuit Group, at Philadelphia, Pa., in December 1941. As a member of the 33d Pursuit Group, General Chase flew a P-40 aircraft from an aircraft carrier during the North African invasion. As commander of the 60th Fighter Squadron he completed his first combat tour as the leading American ace in Tunisia with 10 victories.
From July 1943 to March 1944, he served as an assistant operations officer for the I Fighter Command Headquarters at Mitchel Field, N.Y. From March through June 1944 he was base commander at Hills Grove Army Air Field, N.Y., and then operations officer and later deputy commander, 2d Air Commando Group, Lakeland Army Air Field, Fla.
General Chase went with the 2d Air Commando Group to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations in July 1944 and served as deputy commander and later became commander of the First Provisional Group. He is credited with the destruction of two Japanese fighter aircraft and is the only American pilot to have shot down aircraft flown by three major Axis powers during World War II. He planned and led the longest fighter-bomber raid until that time made by the Army Air Forces, some 1,800 miles, from a North Burma base to Bangkok and return.
General Chase became a member of the inactive Reserve in May 1945 and returned to civilian life as a New York State veteran's counselor. During this time he attended the Albany Law School, Albany, N.Y., from 1946 to 1949.
During the Korean War, he was recalled to active military duty in April 1951. He served successively as the deputy commander of the 1st Fighter Group, Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y.; executive officer of the 56th Fighter Interceptor Wing, Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich.; and then commander of the 63d Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Oscoda Air Force Base, Mich. In November 1951 he went to Osan Air Base, Korea. During his tour of duty in Korea, he was named deputy for operations, 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing, and later he commanded the 8th Fighter Interceptor Group. He flew combat missions in the F-86 Sabre and the F-80 Shooting Star.
In December 1952 General Chase assumed command of the 3600th Combat Crew Fighter Training Group, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., where he organized the original Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. In June 1955 he became a student at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. After graduation in June 1966, he served for three years as chief of both the Air Defense Branch and the Tactical Branch of The Inspector General's Office at Norton Air Force Base, Calif.
General Chase attended the National War College, Washington, D.C., from August 1959 to June 1960. He spent the next four years in Germany where he served with the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing, Hahn Air Base, and then the 7499th Support Group, Wiesbaden Air Base. In July 1964 he was named commander of the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
General Chase was transferred to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in October 1965 as commander of the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing. In December 1966 he was transferred to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, as vice commander of the 313th Air Division. In November 1967 he became commander of the 327th Air Division and chief, Air Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, China, on Taiwan, National Republic of China.
In July 1969 General Chase was assigned to Tactical Air Command Headquarters, Langley Air Force Base, Va., as assistant deputy chief of staff, operations, and in October 1970 became deputy chief of staff, personnel. He became vice commander of the Ninth Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., in July 1971.
His military decorations and awards include the Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with 27 oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster, British Distinguished Flying Cross with bar, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Chinese Order of the Cloud and Banner (fourth class).
General Chase's hometown is Cortland, N.Y.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of major general effective July 1, 1971, with date of rank July 1, 1967.