William C. Lee

William C. Lee

Infobox Military Person
name=William C. Lee
lived=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
branch=United States Army
rank= Major General
commands=101st Airborne Division
battles=World War I World War II
awards=Distinguished Service Medal
General William "Bill" Carey Lee (March 12, 1895June 25, 1948) was an American U.S. Army soldier and 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 ROTC program and graduated from NC State and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1917. Lee served in World War I with the American Expeditionary Force in France.

By the time the United States entered World War II, he had achieved the rank of major general and was a proponent of paratrooper warfare. Although airborne units were not popular with the top U.S. Army commanders, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sponsored 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-Day drops 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.]

On October 11, 2004 the U.S. Senate passed 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 77 is named for William States Lee III (1929-1996), a president and CEO of Duke Power and 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
*cite web|accessdate=2007-05-27|url=http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/aviation/lee.htm
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

*cite web|accessdate=2007-05-27
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

External links

*cite web|accessdate=2007-05-27
title=General William C. Lee, "Father of the Airborne"
publisher=101ST Airborne Division

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