Ellis Lee Perry was born on Setpember 29, 1919, at Lawrenceburg, Tenn., where he was graduated from Lawrence County High School in 1937.
He was graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., with a B.S. Degree and with a commission of Ensign on December 19, 1941, a few days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
His first assignment was to combat duty as Gunnery Officer on board the USCGC Bibb on convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic until February 1944, which was followed by duty in the Coast Guard-manned troop transport USS Wakefield on trips to the European Theatre of Operations until August of that year. During the remainder of World War II, he was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., where he received an S.M. Degree in Naval Construction and Engineering in September of 1946.
He next was assigned to engineering duty on board the USCGC Pontchartrain, operating out of Boston, Mass., on search and rescue and ocean station patrol. In February 1947, he became Engineer Officer in the Cutter Mendota, based at Wilmington, N.C.
From July 1948 to June 1952, he served as Naval Architect in the Merchant Marine Technical Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C. That was followed by two years of duty as Shipbuilding and Repair Superintendent at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Md. In May 1954, he assumed command of the Coast Guard Field Testing and Development Unit at the Yard and remained in that post for one year.
From August 1955 to September 1957, he commanded the USCGC Bering Strait on ocean station patrol and search and rescue in the Pacific out of Honolulu. He then returned to Headquarters to serve first as Chief, Shipbuilding and Maintenance Branch, and then as Assistant Chief, Naval Engineering Division, from October 1960 to May 1961. At that time he transferred to the first Coast Guard District office at Boston where he first served as Chief, Naval Engineering Branch until June 1964, and then as Chief, Engineering Division for a year. Meanwhile, he had risen to rank of Captain.
From August 1965 to July 1968, he served as Head, Department of Applied Science and Engineering at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He then returned for a third tour of duty at Coast Guard Headquarters, serving first as Chief, Planning and Evaluation Staff until December 1968, when he was designated Acting Chief, Office of Research and Development. For that service he was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal in 1969.
In June 1969, he assumed command of the Coast Guard Yard, his second tour of duty there.
By nomination of the President on January 25, 1970, and approval of the Senate, Captain Perry was appointed as permanent Rear Admiral to rank from June 5, 1970. With that promotion he assumed the post of Chief, Office of Personnel at Headquarters, in July.
In April 1971, Rear Admiral Perry was named Chief of Staff of the U.S. Coast Guard. For his service in that post he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
In June 1973, he transferred to New Orleans to become Commander of the 8th Coast Guard District which includes the Gulf states.
On February 4, 1974, Rear Admiral Perry was nominated by the President to succeed Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent III, USCG, as Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on July 1, 1974. Automatically, while assuming that post, Perry was promoted to the three-star rank of Vice Admiral. In January 1977, VADM Perry received the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal and the Secretary of Transportation's Outstanding Achievement Award for his achievements as Vice Commandant.
Following is a resume of VADM Perry's appointments in rank: Cadet, August 5, 1938; Ensign, December 19, 1941; Lieutenant (jg), October 1, 1942; Lieutenant, May 15, 1943; Lieut. Commander, October 3, 1945; Commander, February 1, 1956; Captain, March 1, 1963; Rear Admiral, June 5, 1970; Vice Admiral, July 1, 1974.
In addition to the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal (1977), the Secretary of Transportation's Outstanding Achievement Award (1977), the Legion of Merit (1973) and the Coast Guard Commendation Medal (1969) VADM Perry has the following World War II campaign service medals and ribbons: American Defense; American Area; European-African-Middle Eastern Area; World War II Victory. He also wears the National Defense Service Medal.
VADM Perry holds memberships in the following organizations: Society of Sigma Xi; American Technological Society; American Society for Engineering Education; Propeller Club; Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers; American Society of Naval Engineers, of which he is a past president.
VADM Perry's wife is the former Dorothy E. P. of New London, Connecticut. They have two children John H. and Mrs. Nancy Lee Casto.