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First Name: Lester

Last Name: Lyles


Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: L.

Date of Birth: 20 April 1946

Rank: General

Years Served: 1968-2003
Lester L. Lyles


Lester L. Lyles
General, U.S. Air Force

Lester L. Lyles was born on 20 April 1946. In 1968, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University in Washington, DC.

Military Career

Lyles was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force on 2 February 1968, as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. From February 1969 to November 1971, he served as a propulsion and structures engineer, Standard Space-Launch Vehicles Program Office, Los Angeles Air Force Station, CA. In 1969, he also received his Master of Science degree in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology Program, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 2 August 1969.

On 2 February 1971 he was promoted to Captain and in November he went to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, where he served as a propulsion engineer in the Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Division, until July 1974. He next served as Program Element Monitor for the Short-Range Attack Missile, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, DC, until April 1975. Lyles was Executive Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington until March 1978, when he was assigned as Special Assistant and Aide-De-Camp to the Commander, Headquarters AFSC at Andrews AFB, MD. While in that assignment, on 1 November 1979 he was promoted to Major. From January - June 1980, he attended the Defense Systems Management College at Fort Belvoir, VA; from June 1980 to January 1981, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA.

Lyles was Chief, Avionics Division, F-16 Systems Program Office, Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson AFB from January to June 1981. He then moved up to Deputy Director for Special and Advanced Projects at the F-16 Systems Program Office and remained there until July 1984. During that assignment, on 1 December 1982 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

From August 1984 to June 1985, he was a student at the National War College at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, DC. On 1 December 1985 he was promoted to Colonel. He was then the Director of Tactical Aircraft Systems at Headquarters AFSC at Andrews AFB until June 1987. He next went west to the Los Angeles AFS as Director of the Medium-Launch Vehicles Program Office, Headquarters Space Systems Division, until April 1988.

He was Assistant Deputy Commander for Launch Systems, Headquarters Space Systems Division, Los Angeles AFS from April 1988 - August 1989, when he became Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, then Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, Headquarters AFSC at Andrews AFB. He remained there until July 1992. He was promoted to the flag rank of Brigadier General on 1 May 1991. Also in 1991, he took the National and International Security Management Course at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

In July 1992 he became Vice Commander, Ogden ALC, Hill AFB, Utah. He was then made the Commander and awarded the second star of a Major General on 6 August 1993. On 16 November 1994, he was awarded his third star as a Lieutenant General and became Commander, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB. From August 1996 - May 1999, Lieutenant General Lyles was Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Department of Defense, Washington, DC.

He was promoted to the four-star rank of General on 1 July 1999 and served as Vice Chief of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, until April 2000.

In April 2000 he was given his final assignment as Commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB.

General Lester L. Lyles retired from the Air Force on 1 October 2003.

Major Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Air Force Longevity Service Award with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
Air Force Training Ribbon


Master Space and Missileman Badge
Office of Secretary of Defense Identification Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge


• 1990 Astronautics Engineer of the Year, National Space Club
• 1994 Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award for outstanding contributions to military equal opportunity policies and programs, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
• 1999 Sociedad de Ingenieros Award, New Mexico State University
• 1999 Hiram Hadley Founder's Award of Excellence, New Mexico State University
• 2000 Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Award

In Retirement

Lyles was a member of The President's Commission on U.S. Space Policy.

He chairs the "Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program" committee of the United States National Academies.

In May 2009 he was named a member Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee, an independent review requested by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In 2004, he joined the board of directors of United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a Fortune 500 financial services company. As a member of the USAA board, Lyles has served on the Finance and Audit Committee, as Vice Chair of the Marketing and Programs Committee, as a member of the Compensation and Workforce Committee, and as Vice Chairman of the Board. His current assignments include: Vice Chairman of the Board; Vice Chair, Governance and Executive Committees; and Member, Compensation and Workforce Committee.

General Lyles is a Director of General Dynamics Corporation; Precision Castparts Corp.; Battelle Memorial Institute; Dayton Power and Light; and KBR, Inc.

He is a Managing Partner of Four Seasons Ventures, LLC and also serves on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board. General Lyles served as a director of MTC Technologies, Inc., as a public company, from October 2003 to June 2008.

Honoree ID: 777   Created by: MHOH




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