Retired Aug. 1, 1966. Died July 12, 1997.
Major General William S. Steele was born in Georgetown, S.C., in 1915. He graduated from Robert E. Lee High School and Staunton Military Academy, both in Staunton, Va. From the latter, he was an honor school appointee to the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., from which he graduated in June 1936.
General Steele is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va., January 1948, and the National War College, Washington, D.C., June 1955.
Commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from the U.S. Military Academy, his first assignment was with the 29th Infantry, Fort Benning, Ga. In June 1938, he was ordered to Randolph Field, Texas, for flight training. The following May, he graduated from Kelly Field, Texas, as a pilot and observer.
Assigned to duty with the 6th Pursuit Squadron, Wheeler Field, Hawaii, in 1939, he served as squadron adjutant and subsequently as squadron commander. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, he was operations officer of the 18th Fighter Group. From early 1942 to March 1943, when he returned to the United States, he commanded the 15th Fighter Group.
From April to June 1943, he was director of operations for the New York Fighter Wing, New York City. In June he was named commander of the 326th Parent Fighter Group, initially at Westover Field, Mass., and later at Seymour Johnson Air Base, Goldsboro, N.C. In this capacity, he was responsible for training pilots and organizational cadres for various fighter groups assigned to the European Theater.
Returning to the Pacific Theater as A-3 of the 7th Air Force in August 1944, he participated in the operations which advanced American forces to Saipan and Okinawa and led to the direct air assault on Japan itself.
From January 1946 to August 1947, he served as A-1 of the Air Transport Command in Washington, D.C., and then was ordered to the Armed Forces Staff College. Following graduation in January 1948, he was assigned to Washington and to the Policy Division, Directorate of Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Subsequently, he was designated the deputy Air Force member of the Joint Strategic Plans Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
From June 1950 to June 1951, he served as special military assistant and executive assistant to the secretary of the Air Force. Ordered to SHAPE Headquarters, Paris, France, in June 1951, he was deputy to the special assistant to the chief of staff until June 1953 when he was named the U.S. military representative to SHAPE.
Following his graduation from the National War College in June 1955, he became the deputy assistant for mutual security, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Materiel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In June 1956, he returned to Europe as deputy director, Military Assistance Division, Headquarters U.S. European Command.
He assumed his present position as deputy director of military assistance, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in July 1961.
He has been awarded the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal, the Bronze Star and the Commendation Ribbon.
Unusual Experiences: None other than those which occur routinely in service in the Pentagon.