William P. Lawrence
|Born||January 13, 1930|
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||December 2, 2005 (aged 75)|
Crownsville, Maryland, U.S.
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1951–1986|
|Commands held||United States Pacific Fleet|
United States Naval Academy
United States Third Fleet
Chief of Naval Personnel
Fighter Squadron 143
|Awards||Navy Distinguished Service Medal (4)|
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart (2)
Air Medal (3)
|Relations||Captain Wendy B. Lawrence (daughter)|
|Other work||President of the Association of Naval Aviation|
William Porter "Bill" Lawrence (January 13, 1930 – December 2, 2005) was a decorated United States Navy vice admiral and Naval Aviator who served as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy from 1978 to 1981. Lawrence was a noted pilot, the first Naval Aviator to fly twice the speed of sound in a naval aircraft, and one of the final candidates for the Mercury space program. During the Vietnam War, Lawrence was shot down while on a combat mission and spent six years as a prisoner of war, from 1967 to 1973. During this time, he became noted for his resistance to his captors.
Lawrence's parents and grandparents were from Tennessee. His father Robert Landy "Fatty" Lawrence (1903–1976) attended Vanderbilt University, where he was a noted student-athlete who graduated in 1924. He was born January 13, 1930, in Nashville, and attended local schools. Lawrence distinguished himself not just as an outstanding student academically, graduating first in his class and being a student body president, but also as a student athlete at Nashville's West End High School, and in 1947 turned down a scholarship for Yale University to attend the United States Naval Academy.
|Naval Aviator badge|
|Navy Distinguished Service Medal|
w/ four 5⁄16" Gold Stars
w/ two 5⁄16" Gold Stars
|Legion of Merit||Distinguished Flying Cross|
w/ Combat "V"
w/ one 5⁄16" Gold Star
w/ Strike/Flight Numeral 3
|Joint Service Commendation Medal||Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
w/ Combat "V"
one 5⁄16" Gold Star
|Combat Action Ribbon|
|Navy Unit Commendation
w/ one 3⁄16" award star
|Prisoner of War Medal||National Defense Service Medal|
w/ one 3⁄16" Bronze Star
|Korean Service Medal||Vietnam Service Medal
w/ three 3⁄16" silver stars
|Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation|
w/ Palm and Frame
|United Nations Korea Medal||Vietnam Campaign Medal||Republic of Korea War Service Medal|
When Lawrence returned from captivity in Vietnam in 1973, he found that his wife had remarried. The following year, he married Diane Wilcox Raugh.
Lawrence died December 2, 2005, at home in Crownsville, Maryland, at the age of 75. He was survived by his second wife, daughters Wendy and Laurie, son William Jr. and stepson Frederick. Lawrence was buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery at Annapolis, Maryland, on December 14, 2005.
Wendy Lawrence followed her father into the Navy and attained the rank of Captain. Like her father, she became a Naval Aviator. She later became a NASA astronaut and flew four Space Shuttle missions. Her sister, Dr. Laurie Lawrence, attended Vanderbilt University—her paternal grandfather's alma mater—and is a physician at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.