rod_wellsRod Wells, a three-sport star at Salem Community High School, rushed for 1119 yards in two years with the varsity Wildcats, averaged nearly 11 points per game his senior year in basketball, and was outstanding in the low hurdles in track.

A 1960 graduate of SCHS, he received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs and was sixth in his graduating class in 1964. While at the Air Force Academy, he played freshman football and ended his football activity in his sophomore year after a broken collar bone and two separated shoulders.

In football his senior year in high school, he carried the ball 121 times for 742 yards, having exceptional games against Flora with 113 yards in a 40-12 victory, against Olney with 179 yards in a 25-19 win; and against Bridgeport with 92 yards in a 39-13 victory.

One of the most memorable games was a 6-0 win at Carmi, played in freezing weather on an ice-encrusted frozen field. In the tight game, Wells carried only 12 times but scored the only touchdown. During his junior year he had 95 carries for 377 yards with this best game against Carmi with 128 yards rushing.

In basketball, he was the leading scorer his senior year, racking up 259 points as an out-court shooter. In a 67-64 upset of Mt. Vernon that year he scored 22 points.

Running the low hurdles in track, he scored many points. In 1958 Salem won the North Egypt Conference track championship.

Wells was an All-North Egypt Conference selection, was chosen on the All-Southern Illinois team, named to the All-State team selected by the Chicago American, and was selected to the Wigwam Wisemen of America All-American squad. Because he had been admitted to the Air Force Academy and was in basic training, he was unable to play in the East-West all senior game at Baton Rouge, La.

After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Wells received his pilot’s wings in 1965. He was then assigned to the Strategic Air Command, Flying the KC-135 in SAC, and earned the Air Medal for re-fueling flights for fighter strikes in North Vietnam.

In 1968 he began flying C·130’s throughout Vietnam, earning 4 more Air Medals as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross. Returning to the United States in 1970 and at the University of Southern California, Wells earned a M.S. degree in Systems Management. After a year flying for the Air Weather Service in a hurricane-hunter squadron, he served as aide-de-camp and pilot for a U.S. Army general in the North American Defense Command.

Wells gained his jump wings from the Army’s Airborne Infantry School in 1973 and then earned a M.S. degree in English at the University of Minnesota after completing off-duty and night studies. As Director of Freshman English at the Air Force Academy, he split his time between classroom teaching and instructing young pilots-to-be at the airfield. He served two years as Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of the Academy.

From 1979 to 1983, Wells served in Europe with the last two years as Commander of the 37th Tactical Airlift Squadron. He was Assistant Chief of Staff of the Military Airlift Command and was a student at the Air War College.