Col. Claude Eichelberger was born on February 16, 1948, in Columbia, South Carolina, and is the son of Corinne and the late Claud Eichelberger. He attended kindergarten in Allen-Benedict Court and primary grades at Waverly Elementary and Burton Elementary schools. After W. A. Perry Junior High School he graduated from C. A. Johnson Preparatory Academy in 1966. His two fondest memories of childhood include a fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Stewart, and an air show at McEntire Air National Guard Station. It was Mrs. Stewart that saw to it he was always given challenging reading assignments and it was watching an air show with jet aircraft, from outside the fence, which sparked his interest in airplanes.
After high school graduation, Eichelberger enlisted in the United States Army. He served four years with one tour in Germany and one tour in Vietnam. Upon discharge, he enrolled in the University of South Carolina and graduated in 1974 with a baccalaureate degree in psychology. A second baccalaureate from the same institution, in finance, was received in 1982. Webster University, in 1998, awarded him a Master of Arts in computer resources and information management.
In 1972, he joined the South Carolina Air National Guard as a member of the 240th Combat Communications Squadron. Two years later, he was selected to attend the Academy of Military Science and was subsequently commissioned as a Second Lieutenant – becoming the first Black person to be commissioned in the history of the South Carolina Air National Guard. He is a graduate of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College.
Colonel Eichelberger has served numerous roles in the South Carolina Air National Guard 169th Fighter Wing. His duties have included Human Resources officer, Staff Human Resources officer, assigned to SCANG Headquarters, Commander of 169th Mission Support Flight, Commander of the 169th Support Group, and is currently assigned as the Director of Support, Headquarters South Carolina Air National Guard, at McEntire Air National Guard Station, Eastover, South Carolina.
Military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Colonel Eichelberger currently resides in Camden, South Carolina with his wife, Delores Butler Eichelberger.