Lee Russell, a class of ’40 LT graduate, flew in three wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. After he graduated, Russell enrolled in pilot training and was the first in his class to fly solo and to graduate. Called to service during World War II, he flew as a lead pilot with the 57th Bomb Wing.
During his 68th mission, his plane was shot down and he was captured as a German POW in a camp near Nuremberg. He plotted an escape and made it out alive. After the war, he graduated with a degree in business from Northwestern University. Instead of going into business, he became a commercial pilot for United Airlines. He was recalled to military service when the Korean War began and piloted transport planes back and forth between the U.S and Asia.
Later, he was transferred into Strategic Air Command, where he directed and taught other pilots. In 1966, he was sent into Vietnam with the 7th Air Force, where he served in the Airborne Command post in Da Nang, flying an astonishing 108 missions.
Russell retired in 1985, having received six air medals and three Distinguished Flying Crosses, which are awarded to elite aviators for their skill, accuracy and bravery under fire.