Bill Gauntt was born in 1945 in Greenville, Texas. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on July 12, 1963, and entered the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 29, 1964. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force on June 5, 1968, and completed Undergraduate Pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Reese AFB, Texas, in August 1969. After completing pre-interceptor training, instructor pilot training and then serving as an instructor pilot at Tyndall AFB, Florida, Lt Gauntt attended RF-4C Phantom II reconnaissance training and combat crew training before deploying to Southeast Asia in October 1971. His next assignment was as an RF-4C pilot with the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from October 1971 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 13, 1972. After spending 227 days in captivity, Capt Gauntt was released during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973. He next completed pilot requalification training at Randolph AFB, Texas, and then served as an RF-4C instructor pilot with the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, from September 1973 to June 1975. His next assignment was as an RF-4C Stand/Eval Flight Examiner for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations with Headquarters 12th Air Force at Bergstrom from June 1975 to July 1976, followed by an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his master's degree at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, from July 1976 to September 1977. Maj Gauntt served as a Civil Engineering Staff Officer at Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from September 1977 to August 1980, and then attended the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from August 1980 to August 1981. His next assignment was as Chief of the Airspace Management Branch with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from August 1981 to May 1983, and then as a Legislative Liaison with the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force in the Pentagon from May 1983 to June 1985. Lt Col Gauntt next served as Deputy Commander and then Commander of the 26th Combat Support Group with the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Zweibruecken AB, West Germany, from June 1985 to June 1988, followed by service as Deputy Chief of the Airspace and Air Traffic Services Division with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from June 1988 until his retirement from the Air Force on September 1, 1990.
His 3rd Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
Captain William A. Gauntt distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as an RF-4C Aircraft Commander near Hanoi, North Vietnam, on 11 June 1972. On that date, Captain Gauntt led a composite flight of reconnaissance aircraft and fighter escorts to obtain bomb damage assessment along the Northeast Railroad leading out of Hanoi. With complete disregard for his own personal safety while braving severe and accurate antiaircraft fire, Captain Gauntt attained outstanding results with complete coverage of all assigned targets, thereby enabling higher echelons of command to accurately evaluate enemy capabilities. The professional competence, aerial skill and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Gauntt reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.