FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg's Soldier Support Center held a dedication ceremony Dec. 10 in honor of Maj. Gen. William C. Lee.
Lee is a native of Dunn, North Carolina and a North Carolina State University graduate. After World War I, Lee was assigned as a peace-time observer in Germany. During this time, he took note of Adolf Hitler's airborne forces. President Franklin Roosevelt had been reading about Hitler's airborne activities and wanted to know more about it. Lee, an Army major at the time, was invited to the White House to brief Roosevelt on what he had seen in Germany. The president was so impressed that he ordered airborne planning and training to begin immediately. The first airborne command was organized with Lee as the commander. He became known as the "Father of the Airborne."
Lee earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his early leadership in airborne forces. By August 1942, Lee was the first commander of the new 101st Airborne Division based at Camp Claiborne in central Louisiana. Lee, a general at the time, developed the plans for the air invasion of Normandy on D-Day and had trained to jump with his men, but was sent back to the states a few months before the battle due to a heart attack. To honor their "father," the paratroopers yelled out "Bill Lee!" as they made their jump on D-Day. He listened to the invasion by radio in his Dunn, North Carolina, home.