William Corinth Bacon (1919–2008)
William Corinth Bacon was a decorated career U.S. Air Force officer who flew bombers in World War II and later led strategic bombing groups and nuclear missile wings during the Cold War.
William Corinth Bacon was born on April 17, 1919, in Booneville (Logan County), the son of dentist William T. Bacon and Sallie Maxie Bacon. Growing up in Booneville, Bacon proved to be a promising athlete, but as war loomed in 1940 he turned down an opportunity to play baseball professionally—as well as an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York—to enlist in the U.S. Army as an air cadet. He trained at Kelly Field in Texas.
Bacon married Doris Fox of San Antonio on April 25, 1941; they would go on to have a daughter and two sons. He received his wings and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force a day after the wedding. After service at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he was shipped overseas in July 1942 and assigned service with the Ninth Air Force in the Middle East Theater during World War II.
In August 1943, he was returning from a bombing run in his B-24 Liberator when his plane was hit with anti-aircraft fire that shot out its rudder control cable and hydraulics. As crew members bound the control cable with wire unwound from a ration box, the Liberator was attacked by three German fighters. As Bacon’s Silver Star citation states, “Although unable to stay in formation, he and his crew were able to destroy one enemy fighter aircraft and fight off others. They returned the damaged bomber, landing at night without damage to the plane or his crew. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army Air Forces.”
Bacon would fly forty combat missions during the war, logging 326 combat hours. In addition to the Silver Star, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster and a Legion of Merit for his service during World War II.
Bacon transferred to the U.S. Air Force when it was created in 1947. He attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama that year before taking command of the Sixth Bombardment Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. He then served a tour as chief of the U.S. Air Force Headquarters’ plans and programs branch.
After doing duty in the Far East in 1953, Bacon returned to the United States in mid-1954 and, in 1955, took command of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, two years later becoming director of operations for the Ninth Bombardment Wing at the base. Bacon took command of the 303rd Bombardment Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in November 1958. He assumed command of the Twelfth Strategic Aerospace Division on June 1, 1962, a position he held for two years before taking command of the Twenty-Second Strategic Aerospace Division at Walker Air Force Base in New Mexico.
Bacon retired as a brigadier general on September 1, 1965. In addition to his World War II medals, he received the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal; two of the bombardment wings he led received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award while he was in command.
After retiring from the Air Force, Bacon was active in veteran affairs and was named to the New Mexico Governor’s Jobs for Veterans State Task Force while living in Roswell in 1971.
Doris Bacon died in 1992, and Bacon married Helen Elkins a year later. Bacon died in Texarkana, Texas, on March 8, 2008, and is buried at Comfort Cemetery in Comfort, Texas.
For additional information:
“Arkansan’s Bomber Saved by Crewmen.” Twice-A-Week Arkansas Gazette, March 9, 1943, pp. 1, 3.
“Brides and Wedding Attendants.” Arkansas Gazette, June 1, 1941, p. 7.
“Brigadier General William C. Bacon.” U.S. Air Force. https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/107805/brigadier-general-william-c-bacon/ (accessed April 2, 2022).
“Generals from Arkansas.” Arkansas Gazette, August 21, 1965, p. 6C.
“Much Decorated Texan Home for New Assignment.” Fort Worth Star-Telegraph, October 9, 1943, p. 2.
“New Commander for Aerospace Division.” Amarillo Globe-Times, April 16, 1964, p. 40.
“Veterans Task Force Named.” Albuquerque Journal, June 9, 1971, p. 22.
“William Corinth Bacon.” Hall of Valor Project, Military Times. https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/45539 (accessed April 2, 2022).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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