Lt. Colonel William Corbusier Pierson
March 8, 1926 – January 8, 2020
Lt. Colonel William “Bill” Corbusier Pierson died peacefully in his Austin home January 8, 2020 surrounded by his loving family.
Bill is the son of Colonel Millard and Phyllis Pierson and was born on March 8, 1926 in a US Army hospital in the Philippines. A self-proclaimed Army brat, Bill lived an extensive worldwide, military life style. After high school, Bill enlisted in the Navy and received an appointment to the Naval Academy by his Texas Congressman. He proudly served as a Naval aviator from 1948 until 1959 when he was drawn to the Air Force where he flew an additional 15 years until his retirement. Bill flew fighters in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam wars, as well as commanding a SAC B-47 aircraft armed with nuclear weapons during the Cuban missile crisis. As his keen intellect was self-evident, HQ sent him to the Pentagon in 1966 where he stayed for the next eight years. His time at the Pentagon included sharing an office with fellow Lt. Colonel Colin Powell while focusing on future weapons planning. Bill moved to Austin in 1974 to pursue his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin in International Business.
Bill loved the theater and England. He met his English wife and love of his life, Muriel, at the Zach Scott Theater. They were married in 1988 and thoroughly enjoyed life together while traveling the world with the Friendship Force. Bill is survived by his wife Muriel of 32 years; children Ron, Scott, Kim, and Janet; seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and a host of other family and friends worldwide.
For an autobiography of Bill’s illustrious career and to leave condolences for the family, please visit www.cookwaldenfunernalhome.com
A Funeral Service will take place on January 18th at 2:00 PM at Cook-Walden Funeral Home, 6100 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas 78752. In lieu flowers, memorial contributions in Bill's name may be directed to the Wounded Warriors or Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
A special thanks for the loving embrace from Nikki, Jessica, Clarissa, Courtney, and Holly of Brookdale Hospice.
An “Army brat” (father, West Point USN, USMA, 1920) born March 8, 1926 in an Army hospital in the Philippines, then a U.S. possession. Grew up in Philippines, Texas, Japan (father an asst. military attaché, 1929-32, when Japan was a closed society-fewer than 100 Caucasian families in entire country), California, Kansas, Illinois, Washington D.C., and Maryland. Enlisted U.S. Navy 1943, age 17, after high school graduation. Boot camp at Bainbridge, MD, followed by NAPS (Naval Acad. Prep. Sch.). Discharged and sworn in as midshipman Jun 16, 1944.
Assigned to USS Mindoro (CVE 120) upon graduation, followed by basic flight training at Pensacola Mainside, Whiting, Corry, and Saufley Fields. Advanced training at Cabaniss Field, (Corpus Christi, TX). Advanced carrier qualifications back in Pensacola, designated a naval aviator in Jan ’50. Ordered to VA-35, Air Group Three (CVG-3), Quonset Point, RI, in late Jan ’50. During nearly five years in CVG-3, group changed home ports from Quonset Point to Sandford (FL), and Cecil Field (Jacksonville, FL). Four Sixth Fleet deployments (Mediterranean) and two WestPac deployments with Seventh Fleet (TF-77) aboard USS Leyte (CVA-32) and USS Tarawa (CVA-40). First WestPac cruise was a combat tour in 50-51 (second in 54 as Korean War ended). After that 12-month, round-the-world cruise, including all the usual Med ports in Europe and N. Africa, transit of both Suez and Panama Canals, operating out of Yokosuka and Sasebo (Japan) and Sangley Point and Subic Bay (Philippines), with visits to Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne (Australia), Wellington (NZ), Pearl Harbor, and San Francisco, Bill left Tarawa at Quonset Point, Sep ’54, for a three-year tour at Chase Field, Beeville, TX as a jet fighter, tactics, and all-weather flight instructor in ATU213.
Next assignment was Staff, Commander, Hawaiian Sea Frontier (ComHawSeaFron), at Pearl Harbor, 1957-59. Suffice to say, it was a miserable assignment as a watch officer, heading up one of three watch sections in a large ops center called SARCC-MRC Pearl (Search and Rescue Control Center-Movement Report Center, Pearl Harbor). Manned around the clock by two officers and a dozen enlisted, the center had primary responsibility for all SAR incidents involving military aircraft and ships (and provided all DOD forces assisting the Coast Guard, which had responsibility for civilian SAR incidents) over 75-80% of the Pacific Ocean. Every “feathered” prop and jet-engine shutdown (there were many every day) was tracked; SAR escort aircraft were scrambled to intercept and escort them if they were over 200 miles from land. Emergencies involving ships, civilian and naval, meant assuming OpCon of closest naval vessel with a doctor on board to receive critically ill or injured crewmen. The center kept track of all USN vessels in that huge expanse, tracking their movements throughout the Pacific and receiving their regular, six-hour weather reports. The schedule was a killer--the eight day cycle consisted of two day watches (0800-1600), two “eves” (1600-midnight), two “mids” (midnight-0800), followed by 48 hours to recuperate before starting over again. Bill swears his body aged five-six years during those two years—it never knew when it should sleep, eat, go to the head, etc. The foregoing, coupled with the fact that he was going to be assigned to a carrier or fleet auxiliary for a follow-on, two-year tour as a ship’s company officer, meant that Bill might never get another squadron flying assignment. Since he loved to fly, Bill took advantage of a little know provision in the DOD Reorganization Act of 1958 that provided for interservice transfer of officers under certain specific conditions; and, on 1 Jul 59, left his beloved Navy and was sworn into the Air Force (and kept flying 15 more years until he retired). Following Combat Crew Survival School at Stead AFB (Reno, NV) and a one-week escape and evasions exercise in the High Sierras, Bill was assigned as a SAC B-47 aircraft commander. B-47 tours followed at McConnell AFB (Wichita, KS), MacDill AFB (Tampa, FL) with alert deployments to Ben Guerir AB (Marrakech, Morocco) and Moron AB, (near Seville, Spain). After spending the Cuban missile crisis on nuclear alert at Ben Guerrir AB (everyone there felt there was a 50-50 chance that the “go” signal would be given), Bill received orders to HQ SAC, Offutt AFB, NE, For a tour in future weapons plans (space), from 63-65.
Volunteered for duty in Vietnam; had a very interesting flying tour, Nov 65-Nov 66, with the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. Had orders to Plans at Hq PACAF (Hickam AFB, Oahu), changed at last minute, and Bill spent the next eight years in the Pentagon. The first four years were the doctrine, concepts and objectives directorate, DCS/Plans and Ops, Hq, USAF, involved in future weapons planning and roles and missions of the USAF. Working on master’s degree (international commerce) at Geo. Wash. Univ. when four-year tour was up. Got waiver on DoD policy again consecutive Pentagon (promptly completed master’s thesis) and spent next four years in OSD (Office of the SecDef) working for Assistant Secretary (Public Affairs) working on position papers at the Dod-level for all nuclear matters, space policy, and military base-closure task forces. Retired Sep 1974. Moved to Austin, TX to pursue doctorate in international business at University of Texas, Austin. Taught general business at Austin Community Coll. and management and international business at University of Texas, Austin for five years. Went into trucking business with youngest son, Ron in early 80s. Incorporated in mid-80s, turned corporation over to son and has been completely retired since mid-86. Spent approximately 17 consecutive summers in London after retiring from USAF (loves London’s theatre scene in particular and England in general). Met wife Muriel in Austin in 1985, dated seriously for five years and got married in 1988. She just happens to be English-was a USAF wife for 25 years. Bill and Muriel travel extensively (England and/or Europe almost every year) and all 5-yr class reunions for past 15 years. Youngest son, Ron, now USCG-licensed fishing boat captain, owns two charter fishing boats at Port Aransas, TX (near Corpus Christi).
- Funeral Service Saturday, January 18, 2020
Lt. Colonel William Corbusier Pierson
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January 11, 2020
Dear Muriel -
I am so sorry for your loss. 32 years - how wonderful is that! I always enjoyed visiting with Bill at the many DBE functions.....the garden parties, Twelfth Night Dinners, Christmas lunches..........always had interesting stories to tell. He will be missed.
Carl and Carol Hickling
January 10, 2020
Please know that you have our deepest sympathy on the loss of your husband Bill. We know that there is little we can say to console you but please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time.
In lieu of flowers we made a donation in memory of Bill to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to honor his time in the Navy.
Carl, Carol, Teresa, and Travis Hickling