Brigadier General William R. Yancey was born at Parkin, Ark., in 1914. He moved to Fayetteville, Ark., in 1926, finishing high school there and graduating from the University of Arkansas in 1937.
He was appointed a flying cadet in July 1937, completing his training at Kelly Field, Texas, in June 1938. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve in June 1938 and assigned to active duty with the 90th Attack Squadron, Barksdale Field, La. He received a regular commission in the Air Force in August 1939.
In the years before World War II, General Yancey served with the 90th Attack Squadron at Barksdale Field, La., and commanded a fighter squadron being activated at MacDill Field, Fla. He was with the 50th Fighter Group at Meridian Miss., on Pearl Harbor Day. He went with them as group operations officer to Orlando, Fla., in the spring of 1942. During the rest of that year he remained with this group, which became the demonstration unit for the Air Force Tactical School.
The general assumed command of Kissimmee Air Force Base, Fla., and the 349th Night Fighter Squadron in the spring of 1943. This was a squadron of the first night fighter unit to be established, and it was through Kissimmee that all night fighter units were trained for overseas combat. In 1944 he moved with the 349th Night Fighter Squadron to Hammer Field, Calif., when the Night Fighter Training Program was transferred to the Fourth Air Force. While at Hammer Field he was director of operations and chief of Night Flight Training. In late 1944 General Yancey was assigned to China, arriving at Kumming, Headquarters 14th Air Force, in early 1945. After a short tour in the A-3 Section of the 14th Air Force, he assumed command of the 3rd Fighter Group in North China, where he remained until the end of war.
After the war General Yancey and a small number of his 3rd Fighter Group staff officers remained with the Chinese air force as U.S. Air Force advisers. He served in this capacity throughout 1946 and part of 1947. His last assignment in China was advisor to the Northern Area, Chinese air force in Peiping, China.
Upon his return to the United States in late 1947, General Yancey was assigned as director of operations, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. When this unit moved and reopened at Topeka Air Force Base, Kan., he assumed command of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, an assignment he held until shortly before the base closed and the unit de-activated in 1949.
General Yancey was assigned to Headquarters Second Air Force for a brief tour and then to Strategic Air Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as chief, Reconnaissance Division, Directorate of Operations, a job which he performed until mid-summer 1952.
In 1952 he was assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., as a student in the Air War College. Upon graduation, General Yancey was assigned to the Advanced Study Group, Evaluation Division of the Air War College. After a two-year tour, the general was selected to command the 4070th Support Wing (SAC), at March Air Force Base, Calf. He remained at March Air Force Base until he assumed the position as deputy commander of SAC's 7th Air Division in England in January 1957.
On completing his tour in England in December 1958, the general was assigned as commander of the 96th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. He moved up to command the 819th Air Division at Dyess in March 1959. He continued in this capacity until his move to Castle Air Force Base, Calif., in July 1961 as commander, 47th Air Division.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Legion of Merit
American Campaign Medal
American Defense Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal
China Air Force Mao Chi Medal
Special Breast of Yun Hui Medal
(Current as of October 1964)