Will Abbott was born in 1936 in Lancaster, California. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force on January 24, 1957, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Greenville AFB, Mississippi, on May 28, 1958. Abbott next completed All-Weather Interceptor training at Moody AFB, Georgia, before being assigned to the 326th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Richards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri, flying the F-102 Delta Dagger. He served at this location from December 1958 to May 1961, when he was transferred to the 59th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Goose Bay AB, in Labrador, Canada, where he served until July 1963. Abbott next served with the 498th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at McChord AFB, Washington, from July 1963 to January 1966, when he became an exchange officer with the U.S. Navy. Capt Abbott was serving with Fighter Squadron 111, flying combat missions in F-8 Crusaders off the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CV-34), when he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on September 5, 1966. After spending 2,372 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, California, before attending Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from August 1973 to February 1974. Major Abbott was assigned to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, as Operations Officer and later Squadron Commander of the 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron flying the F-4E. After further positions in Wing and Command, in 1979 Colonel Abbott was assigned to the Pentagon as Chief of the Strategic Defense Division in XOX and later as Chief of the Tactical Forces Division for DCS/PA. In 1982 Colonel Abbott was assigned again to Elmendorf AFB as Vice Wing Commander and later as Commander of the 21st Fighter Wing. Colonel Abbott retired from the Air Force on September 30, 1984, and remained in Anchorage with his wife Sharon. Will and Sharon have two children, Michael and Steve.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For the Period July 1967 to September 1967: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the above period while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions, and propaganda materials. This individual resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.