GENERAL WILLIAM C. LEE
General Lee's story is a novel- a country boy from North Carolina who entered the military to go to World War I. Like the rest of the country, young Bill Lee was somewhat ambivalent about what was going on in that far-off land.
Having gone to college, at both Wake Forest and North Carolina State and taken a bride, he went off to war.
Serving in the trenches and facing death as a common way of life, he performed admirably remaining in Germany after the war in an official capacity as the de facto mayor of a small town.
Returning to the States and to his young bride, he wrestled where to cast his lot-to choose the military as a career or pursue his love of the land. His love of country prevailed. He went on to a stint at North Carolina State teaching, then to Panama, where he discovered he was good at the succession of arms.
A succession of assignments and schools followed. He came home at every opportunity.
He went to France. Bill saw the failure of the Treaty of Versailles and the aggressive military bearing of the Germans. Their parachute training captured his imagination.
Bill and Dava,his wife, took advantage of their circumstances to travel. Returning to the States, Bill attempted to convince others of the new concept of the airborne and the infantry.
Bills break came during his next assignment in Washington, DC.
In a prophetic quirk of events, President Roosevelt became intrigued with German parachute training. No one at the War Department was more knowledgeable than Bill Lee about the German airborne. The story goes Bill personally shared his expertise with the White House. Major Bill Lee was then given the Airborne Project. Bill took his first parachute jump at age 47.
As a General, Bill went on to command the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles". He became intimately involved in the planning of the D-Day invasion from the beginning even helping to select the drop-sites for the invasion. He also wrote the Airborne Doctrine.
Tragically, he would never see his hard work and planning come to fruition. On February 4, 1944 he suffered a heart attack and would never see his "Screaming Eagles" jump into Normandy. In his honor, the soldiers of the 101st Airborne shouted "Bill Lee" instead of Geronimo as they dropped from planes onto the beaches of Normandy.
There is no doubt that much of the airborne success on D-Day was a direct result of Bill Lee's hard work. It is important that he take his rightful place among his contemporaries-Marshall, Bradley, Ridgway, and Taylor. He deserves it. HUUAH!.
LEE'S RENDEVOUS WITH DESTINY SPEECH
The 101st Airborne Division, which was activated on August 16,1942, at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny.
Like the early American pioneers whose invincible courage was the foundation stone of this nation, we have broken with the past and its traditions to establish our claim to the future.
Due to the nature of our armament and the tactics in which we shall perfect ourselves, we shall be called upon to carry out operations of far-reaching military importance and we shall habitually go into action when the need is immediate and extreme.
Let me call your attention to the fact that our badge is the great American eagle. This is a fitting emblem for a division that will crush its enemies by falling upon them like a thunderbolt from the skies.
The history we shall make, the record of high achievement we hope to write in the annals of the American Army and the American people, depends wholly and completely on the men of this division.
Each individual, each officer, and each enlisted man must therefore regard himself as a necessary part of a complex and powerful instrument for the overcoming of the enemies of the nation.
Each, in his own job, must realize that he is not only a means, but an indispensable means for obtaining the goal of victory.
It is, therefore, not too much to say that the future itself, in whose moulding we expect to have a share, is in the hands of the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.
General Lee wrote this speech on a yellow pad. He was a prolific writer and even wrote thank you notes to folks who wrote thank you notes to him.