Robert Merrill Lee


Robert Merrill Lee Famous memorial

Hinsdale, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 29 Jun 2003 (aged 94)
Rockledge, Brevard County, Florida, USA
Burial Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA
Plot Lot 3, row B, site 74
Memorial ID 19085859 View Source

United States Air Force General. Born in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, he attended public schools in Augusta, Maine. After graduating from high school, he was selected to attend the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating in June 1931. He attended the Air Corps Flying Schools at Randolph and Kelly Fields (now Randolph and Kelly Air Force Bases), Texas and received his flying wings in October 1932. He was assigned to the 55th Pursuit Squadron at Barksdale Field (now Barksdale Air Force Base), Louisiana, performing pilot and other squadron officer duties. In 1934, he and other officers in his unit flew airmail missions in the US central zone when US airmail contracts were canceled by President Roosevelt. In May 1937, he was assigned to the 1st Cavalry (Mechanized) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where participated in intense training in Troop "C," 1st Mechanized Cavalry Regiment, as well as commanding several detachments that guarded gold shipments coming from the various US mints to the Fort Knox Gold Repository. In 1938, he was assigned to the 12th Observation Squadron at Goodman Field, located at Fort Knox. From 1938 to 1940 he served as the aide-de-camp to General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr., who was regarded as the "father" of the Armored Force. In 1940, as a captain, he attended the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field (now Maxwell Air Force Base), Alabama, and after graduation he returned to Goodman Field to command the 12th Observation Squadron from 1940 to 1941. In late 1941, as a major, he became chief of corps aviation, Headquarters I Armored Corps, and later the air officer for the Armored Force headquarters. In 1942, as a lieutenant colonel, he organized and commanded the newly activated 73rd Observation Group at Goodman Field. Promoted to colonel in January 1943, he was transferred to Morris Field, North Carolina, and performed duties as the chief of staff, 1st Air Support Command. In August 1944, he joined the 9th Air Forces in France, serving as deputy commander for operations under Lieutenant general Hoyt S. Vandenberg, participating in four major Allied military campaigns (Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes, and Central Europe) in the defeat of Germany. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in January 1945. After the surrender of Germany in May 1945, he served as chief of staff of the 9th Air Force as it assumed it occupation role. In late 1945, he was assigned to the air section of the Theater General Board at Bad Nauheim, Germany, who was responsible for completing its analysis and reports on the European military campaigns. Returning to the United States in January 1946, be became the first chief of staff of the newly organized Tactical Air Command at Langley Field (now Langley Air Force Base), Virginia, and remained there until he was selected to attend the first class of the National War College. After graduation, he was assigned back to Tactical Air Command in July 1947 as the deputy commanding general. He was then promoted to major general in February 1948 and became the commanding general of Tactical Air Command from November 1948 until July 1950. He was then assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, assuming command of Air Task Group 3.4, as special assignment to Operation Greenhouse that culminated in the atomic test at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean during the spring of 1951. In July 1951 after the atomic test was completed, he was assigned to Headquarters US Air Force, Washington DC, serving as the deputy director for plans under the deputy chief of staff for operations, with a simultaneous duty as the Air Force member of the Joint Strategic Plans Committee, shortly afterward becoming the director of plans. In November 1953, he was assigned to command the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force and the 12th US Air Force in Europe. In June 1956, the command of the two air forces was separated and he retained command of the Allied Tactical Air Force. He returned to the United States in July 11957 and became commander of the 9th Air Force, Tactical Air Command, located at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. On July 15, 1958, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and assigned to the United Nations Command Headquarters, Seoul, South Korea, and performed duties as the chief of staff of the United Nations Command and US Forces, Korea. He returned to the United States in September 1959 and became the vice commander of Air Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, becoming its commander in chief in March 1961. He was promoted to the rank of general on June 4, 1963 and on August 1, 1963, he became Air Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and served in that capacity until 1966 when he retired with 35 years of active military service in the Army Air Corps and Air Force. He was a command pilot with more than 9,000 hours of flying time. Among his awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the French Legion of Honor in the grade of Commander, the Croix de Guerre with palm, the Luxembourg Order of Merit of Adolph of Nassau, Degree of Commander with Crown, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Degree of Honorary Commander, and the Korean Order of Military Merit, Taeguk, with silver star. He died in Rockledge, Florida.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


General, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Military Academy Class of 1931

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Stephen Ranum
  • Added: 25 Apr 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 19085859
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Merrill Lee (13 Apr 1909–29 Jun 2003), Find a Grave Memorial ID 19085859, citing United States Air Force Academy Cemetery, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .