Retired May 1, 1968. Died Nov. 5, 2003.
Brigadier General William S. Rader returned to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 20, 1965, to become the deputy commander of Strategic Air Command's 1st Strategic Aerospace Division. He had previously served there as the commander of the 704th Strategic Missile Wing (Atlas), and for a brief period, as deputy commander, 1st Missile Division, before departing for Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., in July 1959. At F.E. Warren Air Force Base, General Rader commanded the 13th Strategic Missile Division.
General and Mrs. Rader first came to Vandenberg Air Force Base (then known as Cooke Air Force Base) in the summer of 1957. The 704th was a unit of the Air Research and Development Command at that time.
A native of Wheeling, W.Va., General Rader entered the Army Air Corps in November 1940, as an aviation cadet. Later, as a B-17 aircraft commander in 1942, he completed 17 sorties during the Battle of Midway.
On one mission over the Pacific, which lasted more than 17 hours, his aircraft was so badly damaged by Japanese guns it was unable to complete the return to Hawaii. For nearly 20 hours, the general floated in the water supported only by a life jacket before being sighted by another B-17.
As flight commander of the 368th Bomb Squadron in England later in the war, General Rader made one of the first deep penetration, daylight raids over Europe. He took his unit, unescorted by the shorter range fighters, to a point more than 200 miles southeast of Paris. Despite heavy enemy fire, which knocked out two of his aircraft's engines and the manual elevator controls, he bombed the primary target and made it back to England on automatic pilot. For this, General Rader was awarded the Silver Star on Aug. 26, 1943.
The general also led the Eighth Bomber Command's first division of B-17s that month against the ball bearing plants of Schweinfurt, in one of the most historic missions of the war in Europe.
He has studied at Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, and at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he completed requirements for a degree in military science.
A graduate of the Air War College, General Rader has held many assignments which include deputy commander, 7th Bomb Wing; air operations officer with the Joint Task Force on Eniwetok; chief of the Tech Training Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; assistant for Operational Readiness Division, and chief for Plans and Policies, Headquarters ARDC; and, prior to his assignment to Cooke Air Force Base, he served as inspector general, Headquarters ARDC.
His work with the Air Research and Development Command earned for him the Legion of Merit, awarded for leadership and management of the Plans and Policies Office there.