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Clarence D Lester



Units served with

  • 332nd Fighter Group
  • 100th Fighter Squadron

    100th Fighter Squadron

    Established in February 1942 at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama to train African-American flight cadets graduated from the Tuskegee Institute Army contract flying school. At Tuskegee, the squadron performed advanced combat flying training. As the...


Associated Place


Event Location Date
Born Richmond, VA, USA 8 February 1923
Graduated Pilot Training Tuskegee, AL, USA 5 December 1943

Class 43-K-SE

Combat Mission 18 July 1944

Shot down 3x Bf-109 on the same mission

Died Washington, DC, USA 17 March 1986

Decorated military fighter pilot and commander. Considered one of the most outstanding Tuskegee Airmen, Lester is permanently featured in a display at the US Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Lester was born in Richmond, VA but grew up in Chicago. He was a star football player at West Virginia State College. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Lester enrolled in the Army Air Corps in July 1943 and was accepted for pilot training at Tuskegee. After his graduation in December 1943, he was assigned to the newly activated 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332 Fighter Group. After being deployed overseas, he completed ninety combat missions. He made history on July 18, 1944 when he shot down three enemy Messerschmitt 109 aircraft in less than five minutes. Lester's first aircraft, the "Spirit of St. Alphonsus School," was purchased by the students of a northwest Chicago Catholic grade school, who prayed for him every day. The plane was assigned to Lester because he was from Chicago. Since Lester was also a Catholic, the assignment was a particular source of pride to the St. Alphonsus student body. Following World War II, Lester remained in the military for a 28 year career, including service in the Korean War. His assignments also included service as the wing commander at Eielson Air Base in Alaska. At the time of his retirement, he was a member of the staff at the US Air Force Headquarters in the Pentagon. His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters and the Legion of Merit. Ironically, one of Lester's daughter's Ivy League university professors denied that there had been African American combat pilots during the Second World War and was reticent to acknowledge evidence to the contrary that she provided to him. Lester earned the nickname "Lucky" because he survived a variety of intense combat encounters without as much as a scratch or bullet hole in his aircraft. Lester's three victory mission was recently commemorated on The History Channel's "Dogfights: Tuskegee Airmen" program. At the height of his post military career, Lester was the founder and served as the first president of the ICF International Fund, a venture capital consulting firm with the mission of helping minority businesses win government contracts.

Buried 21 March 1986

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 6, Grave 8431-A


Date Contributor Update
09 April 2021 09:28:55 Erakah Changes to events

I am a former ICF employee and Air Force veteran. I updated that Clarence Lester was the founder and served as the first president of the ICF International Fund, a venture capital consulting firm with the mission of helping minority businesses win government contracts.

Date Contributor Update
29 January 2019 22:34:45 Changes to highest rank

I edited Clarence D Lester's profile. He retired from the US Air Force as a Colonel. I am his step daughter.

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2016 21:17:52 466thHistorian Changes to service number, events and place associations

Date Contributor Update
01 December 2016 04:24:30 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, events, unit associations, place associations and media associations