Maj. Gen. Robert William “Bill” Clement August 8, 1927 – July 22, 2016

Maj. Gen. Robert William "Bill" ClementMaj. Gen. Robert William “Bill” Clement
August 8, 1927 – July 22, 2016

Maj. Gen. Robert William (Bill) Clement, United States Air Force, Retired, 88, of Haines City, Florida died July 22, 2016. Bill was born in Columbus, Ohio, August 8, 1927 to Coleman Clay and Leola Barnett Clement. He was the second of three sons. They were a close knit, patriotic, military family. His father served in the Army Air Corps and was Constructing Engineer of Savannah Army Air Base where Bill graduated from Savannah High School in 1945. Bill spent a year at Yale University in the Navy V-5 (preflight) Program before entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from which he graduated with the Class of 1950.
Bill had a distinguished career in the United States Air Force. He had a fascination with aircraft from his early years and lived his dream as a fighter pilot for 34 years. He received his pilot and combat training at Perrin Air Force Base (AFB), Williams AFB, and Nellis AFB. His first assignment was to Korea in the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing at Suwan Air Base (K-13). Bill completed 101 missions over North Korea with the 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron during which time he became flight commander and assistant group operations officer. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal three times for his “daring exploits” and “flying prowess” while serving in Korea.
Upon returning to the states in September 1952, Bill was assigned to Dover AFB, Delaware, a flying squadron whose primary mission was the delivery of fighter aircraft to the expanding NATO Air Forces. Following three years of this assignment, he headed to Boulder, Colorado to graduate school where he earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering in preparation for a teaching assignment at the newly established Air Force Academy. He served as an assistant professor of mathematics and was also one of the original sailplane instructors at the Academy. Bill and his family were also among the original faculty residents of the newly established Air Force Academy campus.
Following assignments in Washington with the Air Force Intelligence Center and the Defense Intelligence Center as manager of computer programming, the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing in Germany, and the Army War College, Bill was sent to MacDill AFB to check out in the F-4 prior to joining the conflict in Southeast Asia. He was assigned to Saigon as executive officer to Commanding General Westmoreland, soon to be replaced by General Abrams. After six months Bill was transferred to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon, Thailand flying F-4Ds. The most memorable event of the tour was his being shot down by ground fire over Laos and being extracted two hours later by a rescue task force, the Jolly Green Giants. After assignments to the Operations Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters, England, Bill returned to Southeast Asia as Commander of the 432nd Tactical Fighter/Reconnaissance Wing at Udorn, Thailand. Six months into this assignment came the congressionally mandated final bombing halt in Southeast Asia. Bill flew his final combat mission on the last day of our participation.
Subsequent assignments were to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio as Base Commander where he was promoted to brigadier general; George AFB, California as Wing Commander 35th Tactical Fighter Wing; Bergstrom AFB, Texas as Vice Commander, 12th Air Force; and Ramstein AFB Germany as Director of Operations and Intelligence and Deputy Chief of Staff, USAF Europe, where he was promoted to major general. Bill’s final assignment was to Torrejon Air Base, Spain as Commander, 16th Air Force with bases in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. He was thrilled to fly the F-16 the four years he was Commander, until his retirement in June 1984. He was a command pilot with over 4,000 flying hours and his military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit ribbon with “V” device and oak leaf cluster.
Bill was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 48 years, Ann Cameron Clement, who had been his closest companion and supporter and was highly respected and loved by all who were privileged to know her. Bill and Ann retired to Haines City, Florida where they lived happily and actively, enjoying family and growing citrus. Bill served as president of the Haines City Citrus Growers Association, took up aerobatic flying, and was a member of Lake Region Yacht and Country Club, where he was an avid golfer. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Haines City.
He was predeceased by his younger brother, Lt. Richard Lee Clement, his son, Robert William Clement, Jr., and second wife, Elizabeth Atherton Clement. In addition to his older brother, Col. Coleman C. Clement, Jr., Bill is survived by children, Susan Dicks (Dennis), Sandra Cooper (Kevin), and Randall Clement (Terri); grandchildren, Randy Dicks (Pam), Rebecca Henderson (Steve), Amanda Garbrecht (Bart), Christopher Clement, Lindsay Kreiner (Karl), Brad Clement, Sarah Clement, Ian Cooper (Stephanie), Annie Cooper, and Lauren Jahna (Dalton); and 10 great grandchildren.
Bill fought a courageous battle against Lewy Body Disease and memorials in his honor may be made for the purpose of Lewy Body Disease Research at Mayo Clinic. They should be directed to Mayo Clinic, Department of Development, 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, FL 32246, with the notation that it is in memory of Robert W. Clement.
Services will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Haines City at 11:00 am, Saturday, July 30 with graveside military honors following. Visitation with the family will be from 10:00 -11:00 at the church prior to the service. Condolences may be sent to Oak Ridge Funeral Care Haines City.