- William C. Lee
Infobox Military Person
name=William C. Lee
March 12, 1895- Death date and age|1948|6|25|1895|3|12|
placeofbirth=Dunn, North Carolina
placeofdeath=Dunn, North Carolina
caption=Major General William C. Lee
nickname=Bill, "Father of the U.S. Airborne"
allegiance= United States of America
United States Army
commands=101st Airborne Division
World War I World War II
awards=Distinguished Service Medal
laterwork=General William "Bill" Carey Lee (
March 12, 1895– June 25, 1948) was an American U.S. Army soldierand general. Lee is often referred to as the "Father of the U.S. Airborne".Autry 1995.]
William Carey Lee was born on March 12, 1895 in
Dunn, North Carolina. He attended Wake Forest College and North Carolina State College. He participated in the ROTCprogram and graduated from NC State and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Armyin 1917. Lee served in World War Iwith the American Expeditionary Forcein France.
By the time the United States entered
World War II, he had achieved the rank of major general and was a proponent of paratrooperwarfare. Although airborne units were not popular with the top U.S. Army commanders, President Franklin D. Rooseveltsponsored the concept, and Lee organized the first paratroop platoon. This led to the Provisional Parachute Group, and then the United States Airborne Command. General Lee was the first commander at the new parachute school at Fort Benning, in west-central Georgia. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his early leadership in airborne forces.
By August 1942, Lee was the first commander of the new
101st Airborne Division, based at Camp Claiborne, in central Louisiana. He promised his new recruits, "The 101st has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny."
Lee helped plan the
D-Daydrops into Normandy, and had trained to jump with his men, but was sent back to the states a few months before the battle due to either a heart attack or a stroke. He was replaced in command by General Maxwell D. Taylor. To honor their "father", the paratroopers yelled out "Bill Lee!" as they made their jump on D-Day.
Lee retired from the Army in late 1944 and died at Dunn, North Carolina in 1948.
The General William C. Lee Airborne Museum is located in Dunn, in his former home.North Carolina Museum of History.]
October 11, 2004the U.S. Senatepassed a bill to rename the Dunn Post Office, the "General William Carey Lee Post Office."
Lee Residence Hall, one of the largest dormitories at North Carolina State University, is named after William C. Lee.
[NOTE: The "Bill Lee Freeway" in
Charlotte, North Carolina, a section of Interstate 77is named for William States Lee III(1929-1996), a president and CEO of Duke Powerand no relation to the general.]
* Autry, Jerry. Assisted by Kathryn Autry. "General William C. Lee: Father of the Airborne : Just Plain Bill". San Francisco: Airborne Press, 1995. ISBN 0-934145-24-5
title=William C. Lee House
work=Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
publisher=National Park Service
title=William C. Lee, “Father of the Airborne" |format=PDF
publisher=North Carolina Museum of History, Office of Archives and History, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
title=General William C. Lee, "Father of the Airborne"
publisher=101ST Airborne Division
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