Bill Pierce ’57
Interviewed by Thierno Barry ’22
TB: What have you done since leaving Trinity?
The day before graduation in June 1957, I was one of approximately 25 ROTC cadet classmates who was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
While awaiting the call to active duty, I began a sales training program with the American Brass Company in Waterbury.
I went on active duty in April 1958 and served 24 years with the Air Force. I completed basic navigator and radar intercept officer training in Texas. My initial operational assignment was to a fighter-interceptor (F-101B) squadron based near the southern shores of Lake Superior. The base was brand new and we were the first assigned flying unit; however, we didn’t have any airplanes yet! That changed quickly and we were soon in the air.
Three years later I was reassigned to Frankfurt, West Germany as a reconnaissance navigator. Following that assignment, I attended additional intelligence training and follow-on state-side assignments. Other overseas assignments included Vietnam and the Philippines. Subsequently, I completed two assignments with the National Security Agency in the Washington DC area and Omaha, Nebraska.
I retired from the Air Force in 1982, and my family and I remained in the Omaha area until 2014. I served as Director of Communications for Pottawattamie County and the City of Council Bluffs, Iowa, supporting law enforcement operations. Later, I joined the Northrop Grumman software development staff and worked 13 years in support of the United States Strategic Command and worldwide Air Force meteorological contracts.
Finally, my wife Nancy and I were called to join the staff of a large Lutheran congregation in Bellevue, Nebraska, where we served for seven years as Parish Ministry Coordinators.
Throughout my professional career, and in retirement, I am involved in volunteer lay Christian ministry and service.
TB: Tell me about your family.
My wife and I met and were married in Frankfurt, Germany shortly before I returned to the States for additional training. Nancy was an American student and working at Chase Manhattan Bank in Frankfurt. We’ve been married 53 years and raised two sons.
Our older son (Bill) graduated from Purdue University and I had the pleasure of commissioning him as a second lieutenant. He retired from the Air Force with over 20 years of service as a pilot. He was hired by United Airlines and is a B757/767 first office flying primarily to Europe from Washington Dulles. Bill and Amanda are the parents of two sons (21 and 19). The older son, Jack, enlisted in the United States Coast Guard specializing in Maritime Enforcement.
His brother Miles is an entering freshman at Western Michigan University’s Aviation Science Program.
Greg, our younger son did things a little differently. After a year of college, he enlisted in the Air Force where he was trained and served in the medical field. He, too, retired from the Air Force with 20 years service. While in the service he continued working on his undergraduate degree and earned a B.S. in Laboratory Sciences from the University of Cincinnati. Today, he is on the staff at Reston Hospital Center. Greg and his wife Jen are parents of two girls (9 and 7).
TB: It is wonderful to know that Trinity had such a positive and big impact throughout your journey.
Yes. The October 1954 Trinity College Bulletin stated that “the aim of liberal education is to promote the intellectual and moral growth of youth that they may become self-reliant, responsible, and enlightened citizens and leaders of democracy, leading to happy and fruitful personal lives.” This was the foundation that I experienced at Trinity — the “development of my personal potentialities, building inner resources and desire for learning throughout my life, and, to be aware of my responsibilities to members of society and my part in making democracy work.”
TB: What would you say is your proudest accomplishment since graduating from Trinity?
There are several significant accomplishments for which I am thankful:
Being a Born Again Christian.
53 years of marriage (and counting!) to the same woman.
Father (me) and two sons amassing 68 years of active duty military service.
Volunteer Christian lay ministry.
Hurricane Katrina (August 2005). First responders providing emotional and spiritual care on the U.S. Gulf Coast – assigned to and partnering with the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services response.