Legacy aviator Col. Clarence W. Lewis Jr. visits 412th Test Wing

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Retired Air Force Col.Clarence W. Lewis Jr. (left) takes time for a photo op with Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Teichert, 412th Test Wing commander. The two pilots spoke about how the Air Force has both changed and the remained the same throughout the years. (Air Force photograph by Danny Bazzell)

Retired U.S. Air Force F pilot Col. Clarence W. Lewis Jr., the first William Tell award recipient, toured the Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., May 23, 2019.

Lewis, who recently turned 94, won the coveted “William Tell” award for aerial gunnery skills in 1954.

The William Tell Meet, a biennial aerial gunnery competition, pits Air Force fighter crews against each other in a series of aerial gunnery engagements using live ordnance against towed aerial targets.  In that first event, then Captain Lewis and his radar systems operator, Lt. James R. Boone took home the “Top Gun” trophy; the pair flew a F94-C Interceptor for the 3550th Flying Training Wing (Interceptor) from Moody AFB, Ga.

He began his Air Force career in 1943 and was assigned to the Pacific Theater during World War II flying the P61 “Black Widow.” As a squadron commander, he flew combat missions in Vietnam from 1964 to 1966.  Lewis retired in 1977 after 34 years of service to the Air Force and has flown a multitude of aircraft including the P51, P61, B17, B25, B26, F86, F89 and all of the F100 series aircraft.