Edmund Barber Edwards
Brigadier General, United States Air Force
Edmund Barber "Ben" Edwards, 83, a retired Air Force Brigadier General who flew combat missions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, died December 6, 2003, at Inova Alexandria Hospital of complications related to injuries from an accidental fall.
General Edwards retired from the Air Force in 1975 after a military career that began in January 1943 when he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During World War II, he was a fighter pilot, flight commander and squadron operations officer with the 8th Air Force in England. He flew 63 missions and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and six Air Medals.
During the Korean War, General Edwards flew combat missions in F-84 fighter aircraft. In 1953, he commanded the 9th Fighter Bomber Squadron in Japan, which was the first fighter squadron to be equipped with nuclear weapons.
He received a peacetime Distinguished Flying Cross for planning and leading a nonstop aerial-refueled F-84 flight from Tokyo to Bangkok. He served four years at the Pentagon in the late 1950s, and then was posted in Germany. In 1964, he received a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University.
During the Vietnam War, he led F-105 fighter aircraft from Thailand on missions to North Vietnam. At 7th Air Force headquarters in Vietnam, he was director of combat operations.
He was commander of a tactical fighter wing in England, then inspector general at Air Force European headquarters in Germany and an Air Force staff officer at the Pentagon before retiring.
On retirement, General Edwards was an adviser to the Royal Saudi Air Force in Daharan and Riyadh from 1979 to 1986.
He was born at Camp Pike, Arkansas, and lived in the Washington area on and off for 47 years. At his death, he was living at the Fairfax retirement facility at Fort Belvoir.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Jane
Anne Malone Edwards of the Fairfax; three daughters, Caroll Malone Edwards
Ambrose of Alexandria, Ruth Barber Edwards Dorius of St. George, Utah,
and Anne Cash Edwards Polson of Austin; and two grandchildren.
BRIGADIER GENERAL EDMUND B. EDWARDS
Brigadier General Edmund B. Edwards was Deputy Director of Military Support, Department of the Army, in Washington, D.C.
General Edwards was born at Camp Pike, Arkansas, in 1920, the son of an Army Artillery officer. He completed high school and one year of college at Kemper Military School, Boonville, Mo. He received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., in July 1939, completed advanced flying school at Foster Field, Texas, in December 1942, and received his pilot wings before graduating from the academy in January 1943.
His first duty assignments were at Dothan, Ala., and Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia, where he took advanced flight training, gave flight instruction and served as a squadron operations officer.
General Edwards joined the 352d Fighter Squadron, 353d Fighter Group, in July 1944 and later became group operations officer at Royal Air Force Station Raydon, England, as a pilot. He flew 54 combat missions in P-47 and P-51 aircraft while participating in four World War II campaigns, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. From September 1945 to July 1947, he was in Headquarters 64th Fighter Wing, at Darmstadt and later Bad Kissingen, Germany.
He returned to the United States in July 1947, and became executive officer of the 79th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. In July 1948 he became the first Air Force pilot to eject safely from an F-84 aircraft. General Edwards returned to West Point in March 1949 to serve as a company tactical officer and brigade S-3 (Air). He attended the Field Officers Course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, from July to December 1952.
In June 1953 he went to Korea where he joined the 49th Fighter-Bomber Group. When the 49th Group moved to Japan in October 1953, General Edwards assumed command of the 9th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Komaki Air Base. While stationed in the Far East, he was a member of the Far East Air Forces fighter-bomber gunnery team which won the special weapons phase of the 1955 U.S. Air Force Worldwide Gunnery Meet held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Acclaimed "overall high scorer" in the meet, he earned a variety of trophies for this and other feats.
He returned to the United States in July 1956 and was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Directorate of Operations and in February 1958 was named Minuteman project officer in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Guided Missiles. Seven months later he moved to the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for duty in the Atomic Energy and Guided Missile Branch, J-5 (Plans and Policy).
In August 1960 General Edwards was assigned to Sembach Air Base, Germany, and commanded the 587th Tactical Missile Group. A year later, he assumed command of the 586th Tactical Missile Group at Hahn Air Base, Germany. In July 1962 when the group was deactivated, he joined Headquarters Seventeenth Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as director of Standardization and Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. He returned to the United States in June 1963 and entered the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. He received his master's degree in business administration from The George Washington University in August 1964.
General Edwards went to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, in August 1964, as commander of the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing. In April 1965 he supervised one of the wing's units, the 563d Tactical Fighter Squadron when it was deployed temporarily to Takhli Air Base, Thailand, where its pilots flew combat missions over North Vietnam. He later was made commander of Takhli. He flew more than 40 combat sorties in the F-105D Thunderchief.
In July 1965 he returned to McConnell Air Force Base and soon afterward was assigned as director of out-of-country operations, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, for Headquarters Second Air Division (now Seventh Air Force) at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. In August 1966, on a consecutive overseas tour, General Edwards arrived at Wethersfield Royal Air Force Station, England, to command the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing. He assumed the duties as the inspector general, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, in July 1968.
General Edwards became chief, Middle East/Africa/South Asia Division, director J-5 (Plans and Policy), Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in December 1969. He assumed duties as deputy director of plans, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in August 1970. In February 1972 he was appointed deputy director of military support, Department of the Army.
His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, and Honorary Royal Thai Air Force Wings.
General Edwards' hometown was San Antonio, Texas.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of Brigadier General effective May 1, 1968, with date of rank April 28, 1968.
EDWARDS, EDMUND BARBER (BEN)
BRIGADIER GENERAL, USAF (Ret.)
Passed away on December 6, 2003.
General Edwards is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jane Anne Malone Edwards of The Fairfax; daughters, Caroll Malone Edwards Ambrose of Alexandria, Virginia, Ruth Barber Edwards Dorius of St. George, Utah, and Anne Cash Edwards Polson of Austin, Texa and two grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 11 a.m. at Fort Myer Old Post Chapel. Interment will follow at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to USAF Falcon Foundation or to West Point USMA Fund.
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, August 2006
Posted: 11 January 2004 - Updated: 21 February 2004 Updated: 5 August 2006