Brigadier General (Retired) Ralph J. Hallenbeck
dies at 95; flew B-24s in WWII
General Hallenbeck died peacefully on May 4, 2014 at the Hunt Community in Nashua, NH after a brief illness.
Born in Monett, Missouri in 1919, he graduated from Monett High School and Junior College in 1939. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and while there completed primary pilot training at Muskogee, Oklahoma, and basic and advanced pilot training at Stewart Field, N.Y. Upon graduating from West Point with a commission as a second lieutenant in June 1943, the same day married his high school sweetheart – the former Corabelle Harback. Subsequent to B-24 transition training at Smyrna, Tennessee and Boise, Idaho, he was assigned to the 484th Bombardment Group as a B-24 flight commander and flew combat missions from North Africa and Italy over Axis targets in Europe, including the oilfields in Ploesti, Romania. On his 13th mission he was shot down on May 29, 1944 over Wiener Neustadt, Austria while leading a group of 40 bombers. Badly burned, he was captured and a prisoner of war (first in Stalag Luft III and then the winter march to Moosburg) until liberated in April 1945.
Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned to Headquarters Army Air Forces for duty with the assistant chief of staff-4, working on war surplus aircraft allocations and property disposal. In October of 1947 he became executive to the director of procurement and industrial planning, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He attended the Air Command and Staff College and Air Force Logistics School in 1950-51. In May 1951 he returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force and was assigned to the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel where he served a chief of the General Officers Branch. From August 1957 to June 1958 he attended the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. In July 1958 he was assigned to Headquarters Pacific Air Forces where he served as assistant for Personnel planning. In January 1960 he was assigned to the 6486th Air Base Wing, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, where he served successively as deputy for personnel, deputy for operations and deputy commander until August 1962. He was then assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado as Director of Inspection then Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Academy. In June 1966 he was selected to be Deputy Secretary to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. In July 1968 he was assigned to Headquarters Military Airlift Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois as Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. While at Scott AFB he was promoted to Brigadier General then reassigned, in August 1969, as Secretary of the Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, in Casteau, Belgium where he served until his retirement in December 1972. General Hallenbeck’s decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Army Commendation Ribbon and Purple Heart.
Preceded in death by his son, Ted; he is survived by his wife of seventy years, Corabelle; and three sons and their wives, Don and Carol Hallenbeck, Rudy and Vickie Hallenbeck, and Lane and Cindy Hallenbeck. He was a loving grandfather to six (Susanna, Shannon, Barbara, Joshua, Kenny, and Todd) and great-grandfather to a further six (Morgan, Owen, Vincent, Shannon, Steven, and Montana). He was greatly loved and will be profoundly missed.