William Burroughs was born on September 29, 1932, in Indianhead, Maryland. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1951 and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force on June 3, 1955. Lt Burroughs graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Laredo AFB, Texas, in August 1956. He then completed All Weather Interceptor Training before being assigned to the 98th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Dover AFB, Delaware, from December 1956 to January 1959. Capt Burroughs completed graduate studies at the University of North Carolina from January 1959 to July 1960, and then served as an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy from July 1960 to August 1964. Maj Burroughs then attended Armed Forces Staff College from August 1964 to January 1965. After completing RF-101C Voodoo Combat Crew Training, he served with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa, from October 1965 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 31, 1966. After spending 2,409 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Sheppard AFB, Texas, and then received an Industrial College of the Air Force assignment from August 1973 to June 1974. Col Burroughs final assignment was as Assistant Deputy Commander for Operations of the 82nd Flying Training Wing at Williams AFB, Arizona, where he served from June 1974 until his retirement from the Air Force on April 30, 1976. William Burroughs died on March 27, 1999, and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix, Arizona.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to William David Burroughs, Major, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while serving with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, SEVENTH Air Force, in Southeast Asia on 11 July 1966. On that date, Major Burroughs flew his unarmed and unescorted RF-101 Voodoo against a strategic target of vital importance situated along a critical northeast railroad only thirty-five nautical miles northeast of Hanoi. This target was of singular value, and the immediate area defenses were as concentrated, menacing, and vicious as any in the annals of air warfare. Refusing to be deterred by a direct hit from a deadly missile which caused major structural damage to his aircraft, Major Burroughs courageously pursued his mission and obtained important photo intelligence of this strategic target. By his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of an armed hostile force, Major Burroughs reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.