Bill Elander was born in 1934 in Berwyn, Illinois. He was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at The Citadel on July 13, 1957, and completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings on July 22, 1959, at Webb AFB, Texas. After attending F-100 Super Sabre combat crew training, Elander was transferred to the 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George AFB, California, where he served from June 1960 to April 1962. He next served with the 39th Air Division at Osan AB, South Korea, from April 1962 to March 1963, when he was transferred to the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, where he served until December 1965. During this time, Capt Elander flew the F-105 Thunderchief on 38 combat missions in Southeast Asia. His next assignment was to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, where he served from January 1966 to November 1969, when he was selected to serve with the USAF Thunderbirds Aerial Demonstration Team. Maj Elander served as the Maintenance and Material Officer, flying the number six F-4E Phantom II, from November 1969 to March 1972. He was next assigned to the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, where he again flew combat missions in Southeast Asia from March 1972 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 5, 1972. After spending 267 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. He next attended Air Command and Staff College, graduating in September 1974. From September 1974 to March 1976, he served with the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida. Col Elander's final assignment was as Commander of the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah, from March 1976 until his retirement from the Air Force on April 30, 1978. Bill Elander is married to the former Lynn Greer of West Palm Beach, Florida, and they have three children-Scott, Tanya, and Benjamin.
His 1st (of 2) Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
Captain William J. Elander, Jr., distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Combat Strike Pilot over Southeast Asia on 11 May 1965. On that date while on an armed reconnaissance mission, Captain Elander attacked two tanker type ships in an extremely well defended area. As he pressed his attack he came under extremely heavy antiaircraft fire and his aircraft was hit. Captain Elander, despite the damage to his aircraft and at great personal risk, expended the remainder of his ordnance, inflicting extensive damage to both ships. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Captain Elander reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.