The Washington Air National Guard general whose 39 years of service included overseeing the Spokane-based unit’s shift from jet fighters to aerial tankers has died at 84.
Lloyd Lamb, a retired major general who died Aug. 7, was remembered at a funeral service and buried with military honors Wednesday in Spokane.
Those who served with him described Lamb as a gregarious leader who understood and appreciated the men and women who served under him.
“He was probably one of the best leaders I have ever met,” said Clarence “Clancy” Brenneise, who started as the unit’s supply officer in 1973. “Most generals are ‘Yes, sir. No, sir.’ by the book. He was just an everyday guy.”
Chief Master Sgt. Craig Weddle recalled the first time he met Lamb, in 1974. What he described as a “gaggle” of officers was moving down the hall, making a lot of noise. The person in the middle of the group, responsible for the noise, was Lamb.
“This was not Mr. Spit and Polish,” Weddle recalled. “He loved what he was doing, and loved other people to love it as well.”
A Spokane native, Lamb left the University of Washington in 1942 to join the Army Air Corps. After World War II, he returned to Spokane and joined the Guard. He was called up for the Korean War, returned to Spokane when he was discharged a second time, returned to commercial aviation and started a travel agency in 1960. He was a member of the Shrine, the Downtown Rotary and the Spokane Lilac Festival.
He also moved up through the ranks in the Guard, was named the commander of the fighter wing based at Geiger Field in 1974 and oversaw the unit’s transition in 1976 from F-101 fighter jets to KC-135 tankers, along with its move from Geiger to Fairchild Air Force Base.
“We thought it was the end of the world,” Weddle recalled. “For the pilots, it was like going from a Porsche to a school bus.”
Air and ground crews had to be retrained, some jobs disappeared and others changed. Lamb’s good humor about everything brought the unit through. “He said it was all going to work out, and he was right,” Brenneise said.
Several of his former troops recalled Lamb’s trademark “Yo!” which sounded like Ed McMahon’s shout on the Tonight Show.
Lt. Col. Nancy Reid Isaak, the 141st Air Refueling Wing’s community affairs officer, said she first met Lamb working at a travel agency before joining the Guard unit. She always knew when he arrived in the morning because she heard his signature shout.
“He just made everything fun. He was a treasure,” Isaak said.
Lamb is survived by his wife June, three daughters, Lynda Blair, Connie Howard and Becky Jensen, all of Spokane; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.