Retired Air Force Chief M. Sgt. Rusell Francis Ellis, 65, former, radio operator on presidential airplanes, died of cancer Sunday, at Malcolm Grow Hospital, Andrews Air Force Base.
From 1950 to 1953, he had served as Air Force One radio operator on many of President Truman's flights. The plane was then known as the Independce.
Sgt. Ellis then served eight years as Air Force One radio operator for President Eisenhower when that aircraft was cilled the Columbine II and Columbine III.
In 1962, he was transfered from the Air Transport Command to White House Communications aboard Air Force One for President Kennedy and continued with President Johnson until 1967.
Born in Boston, Sgt. Ellis attended schools in Northbridge and Worcester, Mass. He entered military service in 1942 and participated in 23 bombing missions over Germany as a Pathfinder leader lead radio operator with the 100th Bomber Group of the 8th Army Air Force.
He was shot down on his 23rd mission over Leipzig, Germany, in 1944, and was a prisoner of war in Germany for 10 months.
In 1968, he was assigned to Europe with the 7th Commando Squadron. He returned to Andrews Air Force Base, where he was a communications adviser until retiring in 70.
He then joined the Environmental Protection Agency as a communication specialist supervisor, and retired a second time in 1976.
Sgt. Ellis was a member of the White House Communications Association. A ham radio operator, he was a life member of the American Radio Relay League. He held numerous decorations, including the Air Medal with clusters.
He is survived by his wife, Majorie L., and a daughter, Virginia both of the home in Fairfax; two other daughters, Vivien Pignatiello, of Centerville, Ohio, and Britta Bennett, of Hiran, Ga.; two sons, Russell F. Jr., of Riverside, Calif., and Donald, of Centerville, Va.; his mother, Frances Elllis, and a brother, Harold, both of Worcester, and six grandchildren.