|Delaware Military History
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Clarence E. (Ed) Atkinson
Year 1927 was defining for Ed Atkinson. Lindbergh’s Atlantic flight and the movie “Wings”
(first Academy Award winner) conspired to inspire the boy to a life aloft. He flew his model
airplanes at Bellanca Field, and bicycled to Biggs Field “just to hang around airplanes.”
In 1941 at age 18, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he served as pilot instructor
throughout World War II. At war’s end 1st Lt. Atkinson became a founding member of the
Delaware Air National Guard (DANG) where he advanced in a succession of administrative
posts until mandatory retirement in 1983.
His Guard work was interrupted in 1951 by recall for Korea, assigned to the Fourth Fighter
Wing. Returning to the Guard, he served many years as base detachment commander (full-time
boss of the full-time Air Technician employees). In this capacity, Col. Atkinson led the 1962-63
transformation of the unit from a fighter squadron to a transport group.
In 1969 he was named Delaware state adjutant general, the only “blue-suited” (Air Force) officer
to hold the position. After eight years as adjutant general, he served for seven years as U.S.
property & fiscal officer responsible for federal property and funds allocated to the Delaware
Guard, both Army and Air.
His flight logs, spanning more than 42 years, reveal 9,200 hours in 40 types and models of
military aircraft, including 125 combat hours and 4,438 hours as instructor pilot.
Ed Atkinson lives in West Grove, Pa. His wife Frances died in 2002. Their son David Edward
lives in Newark, Del., and daughter Mrs. Lynn Calehuff lives in Elkton, Md.