Captain William Nicholas "Bill" Leonard
5 May 1961 - 7 May 1962
Graduated from the Naval Academy in 1938
Retired with the rank of Rear Admiral
Captain William N. Leonard was born 12 January 1916 in Douglas, AZ. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1938.
Designated Naval Aviator #6953 in 1940, Captain Leonard was a fighter pilot who became an ace in the early days of WW II. Assigned to VF-42, he flew off USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the battle of the Coral Sea and later at Midway. Later in the war he was attached to the staff of Commander Fleet Air, West Coast. He flew the first captured Japanese A6m2-21 Zero and the experimental XFR-1 Fireball fighter.
Captain Leonard was a leader in Naval Aviation throughout his career. He was in the first pilot class at Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent, MD, flying more that 20 different aircraft. He qualifed as a jet pilot in 1946 and was appointed Commanding Officer of VF-17A, later VF-171, the first jet squadron to qualify on carriers. He lead the team that developed the requirements for the Navy's A-6 Intruder. His other operational commands included Air Group 17, Air Development Squadron Five (VX-5), USS Salamonie (AO-26), USS Ranger (CVA-61), Carrier Division 14 and the Naval Safety Center.
Captain Leonard's awards included two Navy Crosses, four Legions of Merit, one with Combat "V", the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and six Air Medals.
Rear Admiral Leonard passed away on 21 August 2005 at the age of 89.
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