Retired March 1, 1973.
Major General William S. Harrell is commander of North American Air Defense Command's 24th NORAD Region with headquarters at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. He is responsible for the air defense of part of all of nine Middle Western States and four Canadian provinces.
General Harrell was born in 1920, in Pleasant Hill, Ala. He graduated from Carlowville High School in Alabama and attended the University of Alabama in 1938 and Ohio State University in 1950 majoring in chemistry. In 1941 General Harrell entered flying school at Carlstrom Field, Fla., and graduated from advanced flying school at Craig Field, Ala., in November 1941 with a commission as second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.
From November 1941 to July 1942, General Harrell was an advanced flying instructor with Southeast Air Force Training Command at Craig and Napier fields, Ala., and Spence Field, Ga. General Harrell served with the 89th Fighter Squadron in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, from July 1942 to November 1944, as a fighter pilot and later became commander.
In March 1945 he was assigned as base operations officer at Dover, Del., and during that assignment attended Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In March 1946 he again went overseas and served as a squadron commander with the 414th and 18th Fighter Groups in the Philippines and the 51st Fighter Group on Okinawa. In March 1948 General Harrell was appointed chief of the Flight Test Unit, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and during that assignment in 1949, he attended the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. In January 1950 he entered Ohio State University under the Air Force Institute of Technology program.
From September 1950 to October 1953, General Harrell was chief of the Bomber Defense Branch, Strategic Air Division, Directorate of Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He then attended the jet refresher course at Craig Air Force Base, Ala., and fighter weapons school at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
In April 1954 General Harrell went to Manston Air Base, England, and became commander of the 406th Fighter Interceptor Group, U.S. Air Forces in Europe. In 1956 he became director of operations for the 406th Fighter Interceptor Wing. He attended the Air War College during 1957-1958.
He went to Headquarters Western Air Defense Force at Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif., in July 1958, where he served as director of the Combat Operations Center, then as assistant deputy of operations. In February 1960 he was assigned as deputy for operations, Headquarters 28th Air Division, at Hamilton Air Force Base.
General Harrell was transferred to Headquarters San Francisco Air Defense Sector at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in July 1960, as director of operations; and from July 1961 to July 1962 he served as vice commander with additional duties as director of operations, and further additional duties as deputy for operations, Headquarters San Francisco North American Air Defense Command/Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD/CONAD Sector).
In July 1962 General Harrell assumed command of the 78th Fighter Wing, Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif. In August 1964 he became commander of the Chicago NORAD/CONAD Sector/Chicago Air Defense Sector (ADC) at Truax Field, Wis., and from April 1966 until June 1966, he served as commander of the 20th NORAD/CONAD Division/20th Air Division (ADC) at Truax Field.
In July 1966 he became vice commander of Tenth Air Force, Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Mo. In September 1968 he was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff, materiel, Aerospace Defense Command, and in March 1969 was appointed deputy chief of staff, materiel.
General Harrell assumed command of the 24th NORAD/CONAD Region, with additional duty as commander of the 24th Air Division, with headquarters at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., in July 1971.
A command pilot, General Harrell has flown more than 5,600 hours. In World War II, he flew 158 combat missions and logged 458 combat hours in the China-Burma-India Theater. He is credited with two enemy aircraft destroyed in the air. His military decorations and awards include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters and Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
General Harrell's hometown is Selma, Ala.
He was promoted to the grade of major general effective Aug. 1, 1969, with date of rank July 1, 1965.