It is with deep sorrow that we inform you of the passing of Col. William "Bill" Campbell on April 24, 2012 in Phoenix Arizona. Col Campbell was a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, got his wings in class 42 F, was the first Black pilot to drop a bomb in combat, commanded the 99th
Fighter Squadron in combat and in 1947 commanded the 332nd Fighter Group. The William "Bill" Campbell chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. is named in his honor. Col Campbell's grandson gave a very moving presentation on his grandfather during the Heritage Luncheon at the convention last year.
The Lonely Eagles now have a full compliment of combat leaders and the Tuskegee Airmen legacy lives on.
Please read Col Dick Toliver's reflections below.
I will never forget that exciting and memorable day in September 1957 when we freshman cadets were introduced to original Tuskegee Airmen for the first time in our lives. Lieutenant Colonel William “Wild Bill” Campbell was the Professor of Air Science at Tuskegee Institute’s Detachment 15. He was a ram-rod straight, six feet plus officer with a demeanor that
epitomized a military leader. Most of us didn’t know about his great legacy, but everyone was overwhelmed by his presence on the field. He graduated in the third aviation training class in 1942 and deployed with then Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. to North Africa in 1943. As First Lieutenant Campbell, he flew on the first combat mission of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron on June 2, 1943. During eleven days of an assault against the heavily fortified Island of Pantelleria, Lieutenant Campbell became the first
Black man to drop a bomb on the enemy. He was also part of a distinguished family from Tuskegee who served in important roles during WWII. Thomas Campbell, Sr. was a field agent for the U. S. Department of Agriculture and Captain Noel Campbell was in the Women’s Army Corps. Captain Thomas Campbell, Jr. was in the U. S. Army Medical Corps and later a prominent doctor at John A. Andrew Hospital on Tuskegee’s campus.
Lieutenant Colonel Campbell was joined on the field that day by an awesome group of black officers and NCOs who seemed to adhere to a code that emphasized exemplary character and performance rather than words. These heroes seemed content to let their actions and behavior speak for them. What a lesson in life that was! I am proud to state that my 26-year Air
Force career and entire life were greatly influenced by Colonel Bill Campbell, a great American patriot, role model, and friend!