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Ken C.
Republican CA 42

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  • Tribute to General William Lyon

    by Representative Ken Calvert

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    CALVERT of california in the house of representatives Wednesday, March 6, 2013 Mr. CALVERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with my colleagues Congressman Darrell Issa, Congressman John Campbell and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and on behalf of the entire California Republican Congressional Delegation, to honor and pay tribute to an individual whose dedication and contributions to our country and state are exceptional. We have been fortunate to have dynamic and dedicated leaders who willingly and unselfishly give their time and talent to make their communities, and country, a better place to live and work. General William Lyon is one of these individuals. General Lyon's many accomplishments are wide ranging, as he has made his mark as a successful businessman, a decorated member of the military and an active supporter of the community. On March 9, 2013, General Lyon will be celebrating his 90th birthday.



    General Lyon was born in 1923 in Los Angeles, California. Prior to entering the United States Army Air Corps in 1943, he attended the University of Southern California and the Dallas Aviation School and Air College. He completed the Air War College in 1971 and the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Senior Officers Orientation Course in 1972 and 1974. Additionally, he attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces National Seminar in 1973. In 1943, General Lyon enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a reservist and continued serving as a civilian flight instructor until he received a direct appointment as a flight officer in June 1944. During World War II, he was assigned to the 6th Ferrying Group and ferried aircraft to the Pacific and European theaters. In 1945 he was assigned to the North African Division of the Air Transport Command and returned to the United States in 1946.

    In 1947, General Lyon was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and participated in various Reserve assignments until his voluntary recall to active duty in 1951. He was then assigned to Headquarters Air Training Command as a staff pilot and was later transferred to the Military Air Transport Service, flying air evacuation and ferrying missions. In 1953 he volunteered for a tour of duty in Korea and flew 75 combat missions in the C-46 and C-47. From 1954 to 1963, General Lyon was assigned to various positions in the Reserve and served as a flight commander and operations officer. In 1963 he was named Commander of the 929th Tactical Airlift Squadron, March Air Force Base, California, and subsequently served as Commander of the parent unit, the 943d Tactical Airlift Group.

    In June 1970, General Lyon was assigned as mobilization assistant to the commander, Sacramento Air Materiel Area, McClellan Air Force Base, California, and in February 1972, he became mobilization assistant to the Commander, Fifteenth Air Force at March Air Force Base. He was promoted to the grade of Major General on April 24, 1974, with date of rank May 24, 1972. In March 1974 he was appointed mobilization assistant to the commander in chief, Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, where he was involved in the planning of the transfer of designated KC-135 units to the Reserve Forces. In 1975, General Lyon was appointed by President Gerald R. Ford to serve as Chief of Air Force Reserve Headquarters at the Pentagon, where he was responsible for managing a $700 million budget as well as the activities of some 53,000 Air Force Reservists. Four years later, on April 16, 1979, he retired from military service.

    General Lyon's many military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with hour glass device, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

    More than 50 years ago, General Lyon started building homes for returning military personnel and others who wanted to make a life in California. This modest effort evolved to become William Lyon Homes, which is now one of the nation's largest private homebuilders. Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, William Lyon Homes has constructed more than 100,000 new residences in Arizona, California and Nevada.

    General Lyon's business success isn't limited to homebuilding. In 1981 he and a partner purchased AirCal, a regional air carrier based in Newport Beach, California. General Lyon served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1987 when AirCal was purchased by American Airlines. His love of flying then led him to acquire Martin Aviation, a fixed [[Page E251]] based operator, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California and in 2009 he established the Lyon Air Museum to preserve and promote the memory of WWII and ``The Greatest Generation.'' It is hard to imagine that General Lyon would have any free time on his hands yet he always found time for his community. He currently serves as a Director on the Segerstrom Center for the Arts Board, having been a former Chairman of that Board. General Lyon is the founding Chairman of the Orangewood Children's Foundation, and past Chairman of Boy Scouts of America, Orange County Council. Additionally, he has served as Board Chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of The United Way.

    Throughout General Lyon's incredible life he has been loved and supported by his wonderful family including his wife Willa Dean Lyon, and children, Christine Lyon Rhoades, Mary Susan Lyon Isola, William H. Lyon, Marcia Stone and Byron Russell.

    We have come to know General Lyon well through many years working together on a variety of projects in California. We can all personally attest to General Lyon's incredible work-ethic, professionalism, and positive attitude. In light of all General Lyon has done for southern California and our country, it is only fitting that he be honored as he celebrates his 90th birthday. General Lyon's honorable service to our country and tireless passion for public service has contributed immensely to the betterment of our country, state and community. We are proud to call him a fellow community member, American and friend. I know that many people are grateful for his service and salute him on this great milestone.

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