Colonel William A. Campbell, USAF (Ret)
April 12, 1917 ~ April 24, 2012
PHOENIX, AZ - Colonel William A. Campbell, known to many simply as "Bill", died at age 95 on April 24, 2012. Born on April 12, 1917 in Tuskegee, Alabama, he was the fourth of six children of Thomas Monroe Campbell and Anna Campbell.
Following elementary and high school in Tuskegee, Bill graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1937 with a BS in Business Administration and began clerking for the U.S. Department of Agricultural Extension in Tuskegee. During that time the opportunity arose to join a group of distinguished young Black men learning to fly at Tuskegee Army Air Field who would later become known as the Tuskegee Airmen. He became a member of the class SE-42-F graduating in 1942 as a Second Lieutenant. He was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter group and arrived in Farjouna in Tunisia in 1943. As a fighter pilot with the 99th (affectionately referred to as the "Red Tails") he participated in the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, flew 106 missions, and by the war's end was the commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron. In 1947 he became commander of the 332nd Fighter Group. Campbell went on to fight in two more wars during his military career, serving in both Korea and Vietnam. He remained in the Air Force until 1970, reaching the rank of full Colonel. He earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and 13 Air Medal Clusters. After retiring from the active military, Bill spent the next 13 years as a professor at the Navy Post Graduate School Monterey, CA where he taught Defense Resource Management.
Colonel Campbell also had a wonderful family life. After a short courtship following WWII, he married Wilma Jean Burton from Chicago in September of 1946. Together they raised three sons, traveled the world and enjoyed friendships built over a lifetime. While attending a past Tuskegee Airmen Convention, he was asked what advice he would give to a young person trying to achieve their dream. Bill said, "Do the best you are capable of doing, that's all you can do; but do it all the time."
Bill was an extremely gifted athlete; his first love was tennis. He won an untold number of single and doubles tournaments while serving in the U.S. Air Force. As a member of the Monterey Peninsula community, Bill served as a volunteer with a number of community based organizations which included: The Meadowbrook Tennis Club, The Monterey Peninsula Branch of the NAACP and the Legal Aid for Senior Citizens.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Wilma; three sons and their families: son, William, Jr. and wife, Jacki and grandsons, Randy, William III, and Derek; son, Stephen and his partner, Debbie; son, David and his wife, Brenda, her daughter, Gina and husband, Michael Silva. Bill will be buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
Published in Monterey Herald on May 16, 2012.