He was was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Test Pilot with the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SR-71), from 1965 to 1969. Ref: United States Military Academy Register of Graduates 1965 – 1969.
Bill Campbell was an F-86 flying buddy of General Charles A, Gabriel.
Bill’s last USAF assignment vice commander in chief, Strategic Air Command, with headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
Bill was born in Chicago in 1931 and graduated from Niles Township High School, Skokie, Ill., in 1949. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., in 1953 with a bachelor of science degree in military science and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
Later he received a master of science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1968, and graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1972.
He completed pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., in August 1954. After four months of F-86 combat crew training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., he transferred to the 36th Fighter-Day Wing, Bitburg Air Base, Germany, for duty as a fighter pilot, flying F-86s and F-100s.
Like many great Fighter Pilots he was assigned in October 1958 to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., for B-47 training. In July 1959 Bill Campbell joined the 301st Bombardment Wing at Lockbourne (now Rickenbacker) Air Force Base, Ohio, as a B-47 aircraft commander with six F-86 engines!
From August 1962 to December 1963, he attended the Experimental Test Pilot and Aerospace Research Pilot courses at the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Upon graduation he spent three months as a member of the first crew selected to fly a seven-day simulated lunar landing mission in the Martin Company’s Apollo simulator, in Baltimore.
In May 1964 he was assigned to the Air Force Missile Development Center, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., where, as chief of the Interceptor Test Division, he was responsible f or testing F-101s, F-106s and associated weapons.
In July 1965 Fighter Pilot Campbell was transferred to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., where he became one of the first aircraft commanders operationally qualified in SR-71s. About three times the speed of the F-100.
He returned to Edwards Air Force Base in June 1969 and served at the Air Force Flight Test Center as operations officer of the SR-71 and YF-12A Joint Test Force until May 1970, when he became test force director. Bill logged more than 750 hours in these Mach 3-plus aircraft.
Bill was named commandant of the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School in January 1971. The school trained experimental test pilots and potential astronauts for future space programs.
He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces from August 1971 to June 1972. After graduation General Campbell had F-4 training at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
He then moved to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as deputy commander for operations, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing.
Returning from Southeast Asia in November 1973, he was assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as director of development, test and evaluation, Office of the Deputy for B-1 Aircraft. In this capacity he was responsible for planning the extensive test program for SAC’s new bomber.
From July 1974 until October 1975, Bill commanded the 6th Strategic Wing, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. He was then assigned to SAC headquarters as assistant deputy chief of staff, plans, for special programs.
From September 1977 to July 1980, he served initially as assistant deputy chief of staff, plans and later as deputy chief of staff for plans.
Bill was transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., as director of programs in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Evaluation with his F-86 flying partner, General Charlie Gabriel (then CSAF).
In October 1982 he become commander of 8th Air Force, Barksdale Air Force Base, La for his last USAF assignment.
Bill flew more than 6,000 military and civil flying hours in a variety of aircraft that include B-47s, B-57s, EC-135s, KC-135s, RC-135s, SR-71s, F-86s, F-100s, F-101s, F-104s, F-106s, F-4s, YF-12A’s, T-33s, T-38s and T-39s. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation Emblem and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with five oak leaf clusters.
He is survived by his wife Peggy formerly of North Carolina. He has three Children, Dr. William Campbell from Colorado, Bruce Campbell from Minnesota and Kathy Lewis from North Carolina. He has seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A full Military Honors Funeral will be held at the Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72 (Clark Road) for friends and family at 2:00 o’clock on Monday the 13th of February.
In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations be made to Disabled Veterans of America and Tidewell Hospice 5955 Rand Blvd, Sarasota, Florida 34234.