Wyoming Department of Transportation
Photo of view from Chief Joseph Highway

William Maxwell

Col. William A. Maxwell

1920 - 2004

Bill Maxwell was best known for being the founding father of Army   National Guard Aviation in Wyoming. He is one of very few, if not the only person,  who earned the right to wear Naval Aviator, Air Force Pilot, and  Army Master Aviator wings.   His career in aviation spanned 40   years.

Born in County Armagh, Ireland, in 1920, Maxwell graduated from high school in Manchester,  CN.  He was working at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft   and flying with the Civil Air Patrol when WW II started. He was  commissioned into the USNR in 1942, received his Navy Wings in 1943 and served as a Naval aviator and instructor in a wide variety of Navy single and multi-engine  aircraft.  He taught American, British and French pilots.

In 1947, Bill was deactivated and headed west. He barnstormed, taught at Wyoming Airways, and joined the Wyoming Army Guard (WYArNG) becoming the first WYArNG pilot. Starting with one war surplus L-5, he built the aviation section up to one of the best in the United States.

When the Korean War escalated in 1950, the WYArNG aircraft were  diverted to the war and the pilots transferred to the Wyoming Air National Guard quickly checking out in AT-6s and P-51s and earning their Air Force pilot wings. When the Air Guard activated, Maxwell was assigned as a forward air controller, "Mosquito Group," flying AT-6s marking targets in combat areas. Bill also served a ground tour with a UN Turkish regiment.  He was awarded the Distinguished  Flying Cross and multiple Air Medals.

After Korea, Bill returned to the Army Guard and led the effort to bring modern aircraft into the Wyoming unit. In 1953 he helped select the Guernsey airport location. In 1963 he was awarded Army Master Aviator wings. Retiring from the WYArNG in 1980, he served a term on the Cheyenne Airport Board from 1984-1988.

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