September 26, 2022
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Wampum native reflects on life and military career on 100th birthday

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Wampum native William V. McBride, who was a former four-star Air Force general and Vice Chief of Staff for the U.S. Air Force, turns 100 years old on May 25.

SAN ANTONIO – When asked to reflect on his life, William V. McBride said he has had many opportunities and privileges that he appreciates and doesn’t take for granted.

“I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had many opportunities. The world has been good to me,” he said recently. “My country has been good to me. They’ve given me many, many opportunities, and I enjoyed it.”

McBride, who was born and raised in Wampum, and currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, turned 100 years old on May 25.

He served in the U.S. military from 1943-78, achieving the rank of a four-star Air Force general, and served as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force from Sept. 1, 1975, to his retirement on March 31, 1978.

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“It’s an honor. I didn’t think I would ever live this long,” McBride said. “I’ve been blessed with pretty good health. It’s a special honor to be able to live to 100 years, no doubt about it. I’m proud.”

Wampum – the best training

A picture of McBride's house in Wampum where he grew up with his parents and sisters. The house is still standing to this day.

McBride said he and his family, which included his father, Ray, mother, Iva, and sisters June and Joyce, grew up in Wampum during the Great Depression, and were very poor as a result, much like a lot of the community.

Despite that setback, McBride said he had a great upbringing in Wampum, calling it a “very special privilege,” as “everybody knew each other.”

McBride (center) with his father Ray and mother Iva.

McBride attended the former Wampum Public Schools system, graduating from the former Wampum High School in 1939. He said he had one of the best grades in the school.

“I still remember the name of every teacher I ever had. They did a good job on me,” McBride said. “It was the best training I think I could have gotten anywhere.”

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There were 26 students in McBride’s graduating class, of which two were former Lawrence County Commissioner, the late Frank Vitril and the late Lois Martin, the mother of current Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler.

“Even with his distinguished career, my mom always referred to him as ‘Billy.’” Vogler said.

McBride attended the former Wampum Public Schools system, and graduated from Wampum High School in 1939, with a total graduating class of 25.

McBride’s nephew, Richard Flynt, said his uncle has fond memories of being in the Boys Scouts of America in Wampum, earning different merit badges.

Flynt said McBride’s upbringing, from his parents, church, school, and community, instilled in him the qualities he would need to be a four-star general and vice chief of staff.

“Some of his most notable qualities are, in my opinion, his loyalty, self-discipline, integrity, patriotism, a strong work ethic, being a good listener and modesty,” Flynt said.

Many opportunities in the service

McBride’s daughter, Kathy McBride Davis, said her father signed up for the U.S. Army the day after the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack. He was 19 years old.

“Every young man in the country had an opportunity to participate in the war, and I think everybody did,” McBride said.

McBride had a long military career, for 36 years, in which he served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Pictured is him in World War II (fourth from the left).

Davis said McBride’s father was a veteran of World War I.

According to his biography on the U.S. Air Force website, McBride, in July 1943, joined the 387th Bombardment Group in the European Theater of Operations as squadron navigator, and later served as group navigator.

He helped to plan and flew in important missions in support of the ground offensive for the Allies, including operations for D-Day.

Following World War II, McBride said he signed up to join the military as part of a regular commission, working throughout the years in the Air Force, serving in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Pictured is McBride, in World War II, in the nose of a Martin B-26 Marauder.

He had many different jobs and responsibilities throughout his years of service.

McBride gradually worked up the ranks, becoming vice commander-in-chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe in September 1971, assumed command of Air Training Command in Sept. 1972, became commander of Air Force Logistics Command and a four-star general in Sept. 1974, and became vice chief of staff on Sept. 1, 1975, where he served until his retirement.



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