While flying with the 302nd Fighter Squadron as a fighter pilot, Lee Archer was given the nickname “Buddy”. Archer flew 169 combat missions in the European Theatre of World War II, flying the Bell P-39 Airacobra, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and North American P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. Flying a P-51C fighter with the distinctive red tail of the 332nd Fighter Group, he scored his first victory, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 on July 18, 1944, over Memmingen, Germany.
Archer is best remembered for his exploits of October 12, 1944. In the midst of a furious series of dogfights over German-occupied Hungary that lasted only about 10 minutes, he shot down three Messerschmitt Bf 109s over Lake Balaton, Hungary.
Archer was one of only four Tuskegee Airmen to have earned three aerial victories in a single day of combat: Joseph Elsberry, Clarence Lester, and Harry Stewart, Jr. For this action, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Archer remained in the armed forces for a career as the United States Army Air Forces transitioned into the present-day United States Air Force in 1947. He later flew missions during the Korean War, became a diplomatic officer at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and then became the headquarters chief of the U.S. Air Force Southern Command in Panama, eventually retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1970.