General Reed was born in Elkhorn City, Kentucky. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in international relations from Syracuse University, New York, in 1959 and a master of public administration degree from The George Washington University in 1965. He completed Air Command and Staff College in 1965 and Air War College in 1972.
Among his many assignments, General Reed was Commander of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base from 1976 to 1979. He was responsible for converting the Wing from A-7D aircraft to a new close air support ﬁghter, the A-10.
Under his command, the 354th became the United States Air Force's ﬁrst combat operationally ready wing of the A-10 aircraft. The wing set many ﬁrsts in bringing this new close air support ﬁghter aircraft into the operation inventory of combat aircraft. Among these were demonstrating high aircraft sortie rates, perfecting rapid re-arming and turnaround techniques, maintaining a high aircraft in-commission rate, reﬁning close air support tactics, and perfecting the capability to operate from very austere locations.
The general is a command pilot with 6,100 ﬂying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying
Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal.