Charles B. DeBellevue

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Charles B. DeBellevue graduated from the University of Southwest Louisiana (USL) in Lafayette in 1968. He received his Air Force commission as a 2nd Lieutenant through the U.S. Air Force ROTC program at USL. Though failing to complete pilot training, he was accepted into and completed Navigator Training for the F-4 Phantom jet fighter. He was assigned to the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (AFB) in North Carolina. In October of 1971, he transferred to the 555th TFS at the Udorn Royal Thai AFB in Thailand. As Weapons Systems Officer in an F-4D Phantom with pilot Captain Steve Richie, he scored four kills against Soviet-built North Vietnamese MiG-21 jet fighters. Flying as the "backseat" with pilot Captain John A. Madden, Jr., Captain DeBellevue shot down two MiG-19 fighters, bringing his total to six confirmed kills and making him an ace. After leaving Vietnam, he applied for and reentered pilot training and this time received his wings. Later assignments included Deputy Chief of Staff for the 5th Air Force at Yokota Air Base in Japan and Commander of the 95th Air Base Wing at Edwards AFB in California. He retired in 1998 at the rank of Colonel after 30 years of service with 550 combat hours logged and 220 combat missions. He was one of only three Air Force aces in the Vietnam War and the last American ace on active duty. Among Colonel DeBellevue's numerous awards are the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star (2), the Legion of Merit (2), and the Distinguished Flying Cross (5).