William Harrell Nellis
|William Harrell Nellis|
March 8, 1916 |
Santa Rita, New Mexico
|Died||December 27, 1944
|Buried at||Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
William Harrell Nellis (March 8, 1916 – December 27, 1944) was a United States fighter pilot who flew 70 World War II combat missions. He was shot down three times, the last time fatally. On April 30, 1950, the Las Vegas Air Force Base in Nevada was renamed Nellis Air Force Base in his honor.
Soon after his birth in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Nellis's family, Cecil and Marguerite moved to Searchlight, Nevada and, when he was 13, to Las Vegas, Nevada. He graduated from Las Vegas High School. He did not go to college, but subsequently joined the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps on December 9, 1942, training in Albany, Georgia. He was commissioned a flight officer on January 7, 1944. On July 9, 1944, Nellis was assigned to the 513th Fighter Squadron, in support of General George Patton's Third Army.
On December 27, 1944, flying a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Battle of the Bulge, he was shot down by ground fire while strafing a German convoy in Luxembourg. He was too low to bail out. Nellis' remains were recovered from his wrecked aircraft the following April. He was buried at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial near Liège, Belgium.