William A. “Wild Bill” Lyell 2004

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William A. Wild Bill Lyell

Inducted in 2004

Bill was born In Waco, Texas, in 1923 and grew up on a small farm – they had chickens, ducks, some pigs; now that was just in the house. In 1934, Gene Autry was an Inspiration to most small boys, so Wild Bill just had to have a guitar. By saving a nickel buying “day old” bread he had $4.95 and at Christmas bought a Sears Roebuck guitar and a book called “learn to Play Guitar in Five Minutes. Well, he says he is still learning. After graduating from high school in 1940, he took a civil service exam and got a job with the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C. He left home with a new suit, (the first one), a pasteboard suitcase, and a $20.00 dollar bill. World War II started 3 months later and eventually he entered military service as an Aviation Cadet. He graduated from single-engine fighter pilot school at Moore Field, Mission, Texas. He flew P-40 and P-47 aircraft.

After the war Wild Bill became Involved with music, assumed the name “Lucky McCoy” and had sponsored radio programs on KCOR and KONO, San Antonio. At the same time, he was a member of a Western Swing Band, Sleepy Short and the Texas Troubadours.

Wild Bill was recalled to active duty when the Korean War started and had many interesting episodes. He graduated from helicopter school and was a helicopter Instructor pilot at the Air Force helicopter school for six years. As such, he instructed the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay; was Commander of the “doomsday” squadron charged to providing helicopter transportation for the President of the United States and his staff to the emergency White House locations, in the event of a nuclear exchange;

Commander of the squadron in Thailand participating in the Son Tay raid in North Vietnam attempting to rescue our POWS. He flew the helicopter scenes for the movie “Flight from Ashiya”, starring Yul Brenner and Richard Widmark. He retired from the Air Force after 31 years.

Following retirement, he thought it would be fun to accompany fiddlers at contests. Through the years he has had the privilege and pleasure of playing with some of the finest fiddlers in the world at many of the best-known contests, Hallettsville being one of them.

Wild Bill admires his heroes as Pat Hopson, Rex Gillentine, Bobby Christman, Anthony Mature, Ray and Royce Franklin, and Steve Williams. They have all helped him through the years. Bill has continually been involved in backing up fiddlers from Weiser Idaho to Nashville Tennessee and beyond and is always ready to back up any fiddler that needs his help. Bill and his wife Stephanie now reside in Gatesville, Texas.