Col Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester


Col Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester

Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Death 17 Mar 1986 (aged 63)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 6, Grave 8431-A
Memorial ID 25397865 · View Source
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332nd Fighter Group - Awarded First Place In The Conventional (Propeller) Aircraft Division


"Top Gun Commander" - Captain Alva Temple

Tuskegee Airmen Virtual Cemetery

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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 served as the first president of the ICF International Fund, a venture capital consulting firm.


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  • Maintained by: Ace
  • Originally Created by: Warrick L. Barrett
  • Added: 19 Mar 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 25397865
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Col Clarence D. “Lucky” Lester (8 Feb 1923–17 Mar 1986), Find a Grave Memorial ID 25397865, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Ace (contributor 49862805) .