Rear Adm. William Lescher is a native of Highland Park, Illinois. He graduated with distinction from fixed wing, rotary wing and Naval Test Pilot School training, and holds a systems engineering degree with distinction from the Naval Academy, a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School/Test Pilot School Cooperative program, and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.
He flew his initial operational tours with the Lamplighters and Swampfoxes of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) Squadrons 36 and 44, deploying primarily to the Middle East/Central Command region aboard USS O’Bannon (DD 987), USS Clark (FFG 11), USS Capodanno (FF 1068) and USS Elrod (FFG 55). He has served as the Department of Navy budget officer since December 2013.
Lescher commanded the HSL-48 Vipers, the HSL-40 Airwolves and the Atlantic Fleet Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing. Between command of the Vipers and Airwolves, he was executive officer of mine countermeasures command and control ship USS Inchon (MCS 12).
As a flag officer, he commanded Expeditionary Strike Group 5, Task Forces 51 and 59 in Bahrain, which lead the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); Peleliu ARG/15 MEU; Kearsarge ARG/26 MEU and the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) in execution of multiple contingency response and counter-terrorism missions and Theater Security Cooperation exercises spanning the Naval Forces Central Command region.
Ashore, Lescher’s assignments included leading the SH-60B developmental test team as an engineering test pilot at the Naval Air Warfare Center, where he launched the first guided missiles from a Navy helicopter; head programmer in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) Space, Command and Control, and Information Warfare Directorate; acting director of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OUSD) (Comptroller) Budget and Appropriations Affairs Directorate; head of the Joint Staff Quadrennial Defense Review Office; and Joint Staff J8 Program and Budget Analysis Division chief. Shore flag assignments include director, Operations Division, Department of the Navy Budget Office; and Joint Staff deputy director for resources and acquisition.
Lescher has been recognized as the Association of Naval Aviation’s HSL Pilot of the Year, the Naval Helicopter Association’s Regional Pilot of the Year and the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Rotary Wing Test Pilot of the Year. The units in which he has served have earned the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation and Navy “E” Ribbons.