This year on Veteran’s Day I remember my great uncle Colonel Gerard M. Leies, United Stated Air Force.
Air Medal with Two Oak Leaves
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Great Uncle Gerard attended the University of Chicago and University of California and received a master’s degree in physics after attending Loyola University.
He enlisted in the Air Corp on June 23rd, 1941. He served as a weather officer for the 13th Bomber Command and 13th Air Force supporting the Guadalcanal and Philippines Liberation campaigns.
He left military service at the end of the war and returned in 1948. From 1948 to 1950 he served as Special Projects Officer with the Air Weather Service in Washington, D.C.
In 1953 he was assigned to Aeronautical Research Laboratory at Wright – Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, serving as a physicist and then as Chief of the Modern Physics branch. He and Donald Reynolds developed a solar generator that ran through cadmium sulfide which the Air Force hoped would be used to power homes in the future. This headline news was picked up by the Associated Press and re-printed across the country in June, 1954.
Uncle Gerard did further work for the Air Force in nuclear physics, solid wastes physics, plasma physics, relativity, and nuclear engineering at the Air Force Technical Applications Center in Orlando, Florida.
In 1962 he was awarded a doctorate from Georgetown University and retired from the Air Force. He remained active in research for the Air Force as a civilian and expanded his research field to include nucleonics.
Uncle Gerard died in 2008. His obituary attributes him to being one of the nation’s first nuclear physicists. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Thank you Colonel Gerard M. Leies
Sources: National Archives, Newspapers.com