Lt. Colonel George Wells retires

By: Grace Kufahl

George WellsAS A 42-YEAR VETERAN OF THE AIR FORCE, lifelong Monroe resident, George Wells has followed news of the recent Persian Gulf War with great interest. Concerning the role the United States played in the. war he believes “we did the right thing.... no doubt about it.”

Referring to the support given the Gulf troops during their deployment and upon their return home, Wells adds that its “tremendous what we’re doing for these people”, but he hopes that other veterans who came home to less fanfare after spending many years defending this country will never be forgotten.

Having started his military career during World War II and having flown 35 missions over Korea, Wells says the biggest difference he sees between combat then and now is the weaponry.

According to Wells, training a flying crew, consisting of pilot, bombardier and navigator used to take less than one year. However, to train a crew to fly planes equipped with today’s state of the art weapons probably takes between two and three years. This means, Wells points out, that should replacements for troops assigned to battle be needed, the military must be prepared with enough personnel already trained to take their places because it takes so long to ready new recruits

Wells received his flight training in the Aviation Cadet Program. After three years of active duty, he was released to the active reserve until being recalled for the Korean War. When that war ended, Wells and his wife Marilyn, who is also from Monroe, decided they wanted to remain in this area to raise their family, so Wells chose the Air Force Reserves rather than a full-time military career.

While in the reserves, Wells attained the rank of colonel, earned a bachelor of Military Science degree and completed all of the military school courses that he could. He is proud to have helped about 300 young people get into the Air Force in his 30 years as liaison officer for the Air Force Academy. During this time, Wells called on 27 high schools in southwestern Wisconsin to talk to guidance counselors and students primarily about applying for appointment to the Air Force Academy.

Another of Wells’ reserve duties was serving as commander of the Defense Proc-urement Agency in Philadelphia. During his 15 days of active duty each summer, Wells led the agency and the 9,200 people there who handle the procurement of clothing, food and medical supplies for all branches of the military.

Outside the Air Force, Wells had a distinguished career in Monroe business until his retirement two years ago. He started out as assistant manager at J .C. Penney. After nine years at Penney’s, Wells bought the Chocolate Shop, which he ran till he sold it in 1970. In 1971, Wells became the first manager of First Federal Savings and Loan, where he worked until his retirement in 1989.

Wells also takes pride in his community involvement. He’s especially happy to have taken part in the building of a park in honor of General Twining including obtaining the F-86 plane that still sits atop the hill there, while he was president of the Monroe Jaycees . In addition, Wells has served as president of the Monroe Lion’s Club and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.

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