Retired June 1, 1962. Died May 21, 1984.
Cecil Parker Lessig was born at Ellsworth, Kan., in 1908. He attended Wesleyan University, Salinas, Kan., College of Emporia, Emporia, Kan., and Centenary College, Shreveport La.
Following a three year tour of duty with the U.S. Navy as an airplane mechanic, he began flight training at Randolph Field, Texas in March 1935. Upon completion of Advanced Flight Training Feb. 28, 1936, the general served one year on active duty as a flying cadet and was then commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, March 1, 1937. His primary duty until June 1940 was as a pilot and he, since then, has logged in excess of 5,000 hours of flight time. He was made a command pilot with the 20th Pursuit Squadron at Barksdale Field, La. Later, he served successively as a group supply officer, communications and armament officer, operations officer, executive officer and finally as a group commander.
In 1936, General Lessig won the Frank Luke Trophy for the highest gunnery score in the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1937 and 1938, he was a member of the gunnery team that won the same trophy.
When the Eighth Air Force was established in England, General Lessig was assigned to the 8th Bomber Command as an operations and training officer. Later, he became the deputy chief of staff for operations. He next served as the 8th Air Force liaison officer with the British Air Ministry and was subsequently appointed the Eighth Air Force representative on the Combined Operations Planning Committee.
General Lessig then entered the Royal Air Force Staff College at Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England, as the first U.S. officer to attend. He was also the first U.S. officer to fly over occupied France in World War II when he flew an RAF Spitfire over France on a fighter sweep mission, March 19, 1942, with an RAF fighter squadron from Hornchurch Airfield near London. General Lessig also flew one mission with the Royal Air Force bomber command and six combat mission with the Eighth Air Force accumulating 38 combat hours in a Spitfire, a Lancaster, B-17s and B-26s in the European Theater.
In early 1944, General Lessig returned to the United States to assume duty as deputy chief, Theaters, Commitments and Implementation Branch, Army Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C. He subsequently became chief of the Theaters and Redevelopment Branch, Commitments Division, Army Air Force, there.
In 1946, General Lessig entered the newly-established Air War College at Maxwell Field, Ala., and upon completion of the nine-month course, was assigned there as an instructor, and chief of the Air Strategy Division. General Lessig next served as chief of the Intelligence Division of the college from July 1948 until August 1950 when he left to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C.
After completion of his studies at the National War College in June 1951, General Lessig returned to Air Force headquarters and was assigned as the deputy director of requirements, Office of Deputy Chief of Staff for Development. He remained in this position until March 19, 1953 when he was appointed the Air Force member in the Studies and Liaison Division, Weapons System Evaluation Group, Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Going overseas in July 1954, the general assumed command of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing, Far East Air Forces in Korea. He served as its commander until Sept. 9, 1954. At that time he was designated commander of the Third Bombardment Wing (Light) which was being prepared for a move to Japan. He readied the wing for the change of station and accompanied it to Johnson Air Base, Japan on Oct. 1, 1954.
On March 1, 1955, General Lessig assumed command of the reorganized 41st Air Division, Fifth Air Force, Nagoya, Japan, that controlled ground and air activities in the Central Japan area. On Oct. 6, 1956, he was promoted to the grade of brigadier general, U.S. Air Force. He remained as the commander of the 41st Air Division unti1 his return to the United States on June 21, 1958.
General Lessig reported to Headquarters Air Defense Command, Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 1, 1958 and was assigned as assistant deputy for plans. In August 1959 he became deputy for plans, Headquarters ADC.
On Nov. 1, 1959, General Lessig became the commander of t1he 29th Air Division of the Air Defense Command at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. On Jan. 1, 1960, that division became the dual command of the 29th Air Division (SAGE) Semi-Automatic Ground Environment and the 29th NORAD (North American Air Defense) Region, both at the same base. The general commanded these units until June 29, 1961 when he became the commander of the Fifth Air Force Reserve Region with headquarters at Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich.
The general acquired the nickname "Brick" from his family.