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Military Legacy Spotlight: Service spans generations for Academy cadets

U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs / Nov. 8, 2017

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.Note: This week we are highlighting permanent party, cadets and family members whose families have served in the U.S. military for more than three generations.

C4C Alissa Till

For Cadet 4th Class Alissa Till, her family’s military service dates back to 1921, when her great, great-grandfather joined the U.S. Army. Andrew Julius Evans served a full career in the Army as a civil engineer officer, laying the foundation for generations of family members who served their nation.

Her great, great-uncle, Andrew Julius Evans Jr., retired in the grade of major general and was a distinguished fighter pilot, flying combat missions during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. A West Point graduate in 1941, Evans completed two combat tours during WWII and was credited with 129 combat missions and eight enemy kills, including four in a single mission. During the Korean War, Evans flew 67 combat missions and was shot down and held as a Prisoner of War. Evans flew the P-51, F-84 and F-4 throughout this career.

Colonel James Theo Posey, Till’s great-grandfather, was also a West Point graduate and WWII veteran. Posey was a command pilot, flying the B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his valor and leadership during the Ploesti Raid in 1943.

Till’s family lineage features two service members who attained the grade of general officer to include her grandfather, Major General John P. Schoeppner Jr. Her grandfather was a command pilot and USAF Test Pilot School graduate, having flown the A-7D, T-38, F-104, F-105 and F-15. He retired as the commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California.

Following in the footsteps of the men who came before him, Till’s father, Lt. Col. Bruce A. Till, was also a command pilot with 2,800 flying hours and 40 combat sorties. Her father flew the F-15C and was an USAF Weapons School graduate.

C3C Jack Bell

As is the case for many Air Force Academy cadets, military service is the family business. For Cadet 3rd Class Jack Bell, his lineage dates back to WWII and his namesake remains forever tethered to a family member who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Bell’s great-uncle, Private First Class Joaquin M. Gayaldo, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps’ special forces during WWII. While fighting to flush out Japanese forces on the island of Biak in the Schouten Island Chain near New Guinea, Gayaldo was shot by a Japanese sniper. In a letter from Major General T.B. Larken, Quartermaster General, his great-uncle was said to have continued to fight even after being shot until finally succumbing to his wounds due to lack of sufficient medical care on the battlefield. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his valiant actions. Bell is named after his great-uncle as ‘Joaquin’ is Spanish for ‘Jack’.

In addition to his great-uncle, both of Bell’s great-grandfathers served during WWII. CPO Leroy W. Dutt, was a machinist mate in the U.S. Navy. His primary duties entailed servicing and maintaining the landing crafts used to storm the beaches. 1st Lt. James A. Bell was an intelligence officer during the war. Starting at the rank of Private, he worked his way up to Master Sergeant. Upon commissioning, he was assigned directly to General MacAurthor’s intelligence staff, where he focused on transmitting phony radio and radio signals to confuse the enemy.

Bell’s grandfather, LCDR Frank R. Chilton Jr., eventually led the family’s path into the world of aviation. Although he served in the U.S. Navy,  he flew on the B-52 Stratofortress as a navigator with the U.S. Air Force.

Bell’s father, CDR James W. Bell, ventured into the world of aviation as well. Only he traveled at much faster speeds than his father before him. CDR Bell flew F/A-18s for the duration of his career and was the inspiration for his son to pursue military service. In the photo above, a young C3c Bell met his father after returning from deployment. C3C Bell said his father’s commander let him fly a jet back to make in time for his birth. Still clad in his flight gear, he made it just in time. His father said it was the quickest he’d ever flown from NAS Fallon to NAS Lemoore.