General Lew Allen Jr. former chief of staff of the United States Air Force, was laid to rest Monday at Arlington.
Allen was Chief of Staff long before my time in the Air Force, I never served under him, I never knew him... but he was an inspiration to everyone in engineering, ordnance, special weapons, special projects, space, satellites, and intel.
Lew Allen was a scientist, and an intelligence officer... eventually in fact, one of this nations HIGHEST intelligence officers. Unlike most in either the engineering and science career fields, or the intelligence career fields, Allen actually had a pretty damned impressive career.
That's a big deal.
If you haven't served in the Air Force, maybe it doesn't sound like much; but you have to understand, in the AF there's rated personnel (pilots and aircrew), and there's "everybody else". In general, the chances of non-rated officers at major command slots, decent career advancement, or even the ability to get interesting jobs past field grade... You can just about forget it.
There are only so many senior roles that aren't straight up administration and logistics, and for the most part, they go to rated personnel with major flying command experience. They most definitely do NOT go to sparkies, nukees, or intel weenies.
Lew Allen was all three, and he made it to director of the NSA, and then to Chief of Staff (though Allen WAS rated. He was a command pilot, but he never held a flying command). After that, he was the director of JPL for almost 10 years.
Allen had probably the best career as an engineer the Air Force could provide. He did it well, and with honor; at a time when military service in this country had become very difficult.
Blue Skies General.