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COLONEL BENJAMIN EDWARD WALLER III
Colonel Waller was born in Franklin, Tennessee on the ninth day of February, 1933, the son of Sadie Vaughan Waller of Franklin and Benjamin Edward Waller, Jr. of Nolensville, Tennessee. He graduated from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin and attended Vanderbilt University (School of Electrical Engineering) from September 1951 to June 1953, where he was a member of the Beta Thete PI Fraternity. Colonel Waller entered the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in July 1953, receiving his commission in the Air Force upon graduation 4 June , 1957.
The Colonel entered pilot training at Bartow, Florida in September, 1957 where he completed Basic Flight Training in the T-34 and the T-28 training aircraft and Advance Pilot Training in the T-33 Jet Trainer at Webb Air Force Base located near Big Springs, Texas, where he received his pilot wings in September, 1958.
Following pilot training Colonel Waller attended combat crew training in KC-97 refueling aircraft at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. He then flew with the 90th and the 40th Bombardment Wings and the 55th Recon Wing (Strategic Air Command ) at Forbes Air Force Base Topeka, Kansas, from February 1959 to December, 1962. Most of his tour of duty at Forbes was spent performing temporary duty flying missions from such locations as Lajes in the Azores, Frobisher Bay on the Artic circle as well as other sites in Canada such as Goose Bay Labrador and Harmon Air Field in New Foundland, in addition to bases in both England near London and in Spain near Madrid and Seville.
After four years of flying duty Colonel Waller returned to Vanderbilt University from 1963 to 1965 to attend graduate school, earning a Master's Degree in Mathematics. While at Vanderbilt he maintained his flying proficiency by checking out as a pilot in the C-47 WWII vintage aircraft at Sewart Air Force Base near Nashville, Tennessee and flying on weekend trips as often as his schedule would allow. After two years of graduate school and the receipt of the Master's Degree Colonel Waller was assigned as an instructor in the Mathematics Department at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. At the Academy he served as instructor, course director, and associate professor from 1965 to 1969. While at the academy Colonel Waller maintained his flying proficiency at Lowry AFB near Denver flyng T-29 navigator training aircraft that were used for the cadet navigator training program. In addition he was a member of the Academy Aero Club flying small aircraft that supported the Cadet Parachute Club as well as the Academy Soaring club that had three soaring gliders which he occasionally flew.
During the summer of 1969 the Colonel attended combat filght training in the C-7 "Caribou" aircraft at Sewart Air Force Base, Tennessee. In August of 1969 he departed for Vietnam by way of Clark AFB in the Philippines Where he received jungle survival training. Colonel Waller was assigned to the 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing, Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam, where he flew as a C-7 "Caribou" pilot, and filght examiner. During his tour in Vietnam he also served as the C-7 Detachment Commander at Bangkok, Thailand for thirty days. Upon returning to the U.S. he spent the next four years September 1970 to August 1974, at the Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., serving two years in the Systems Division, Operations Data Center, and two years as the Air Force Operations Officer/Emergency Actions Officer in the Air Force Operations Center.
From August 1974 - to May 1975, Colonel Waller attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. In July 1975 the Colonel was assigned as Commander of the 3533rd Air Force Recruiting Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Cocoa Beach Florida, a position he held until August 1977.
In August 1977, Colonel Waller was assigned to the Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas as the Deputy Director of Operations, during the period November through December 1978, he was Special Assistant to the Commander for Officer Procurement. On December 1, 1978 he was promoted to the grade of colonel and became the Vice Commander for Air Force Recruiting Service, which he maintained until his retirement from the Air Force the 31st of January, 1984 .
Colonel Waller completed a flying career as a command pilot with more than 3700 hours of flying time in military aircraft, over a fifth of which was flown in hostile combat conditions, and also with over 500 hours in various small civilian aircraft during a twenty-six year seven month and 27 day career in the Air Force. His military decorations include the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm, and the AF Organizational Excellence Award. After retiring from the Air Force, Colonel Waller was involved in an import business for four years prior to becoming an instructor in the Mathematics Department at Palo Alto College located in San Antonio, Texas. Primarily he taught Algebra, Business Calculus, and Statistics as a full time tenure track instructor until he retired for the second time in August, 1995. He continued teaching as a part timeadjunct instructor at Palo Alto College.
He is preceded in death (son) Michael Jeffrey Waller. Survived by: Janice (Burrows Harris Waller, beloved and devoted wife of 36 years, formerly from Montgomery, AL.; (son) Benjamin E. Waller IV (Rockwall, TX), (Stepdaughter) Kelli Harris Damon (San Antonio, TX), (Son-in-Law) Casey Randolph Damon (San Antonio, TX), (Grandson) Reid Jeffrey Waller (Rockwall, TX), (Granddaughter) Samantha Lloyd Damon (San Antonio, TX).
The Lord was Benjamin's guiding force throughout his life. He will be sorely missed by his devoted family and loving friends of many years.
Memorial services are being held on May 17th, 10:00am @ Community Bible Church. Reception to follow.
Published in Express-News on May 4, 2014