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Updated 6/22/2022 Flown West - Capt. Jennings (Jim) Backus took his final flight West on June 18, 2022 after a brief stay in hospice. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 6/15/2022 Flown West - Capt. Rick Libby took his final flight West on May 30, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 6/14/2022 Flown West - Capt. Emmett Weber took his final flight West on April 21, 2022. See Pathfinders for more information.
Updated 6/6/2022 Flown West - Don Iorio, Sr. took his final flight West on May 28, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 6/5/2022 Flown West - Jerry Borchin took his final flight West on May 28, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 6/4/2022 Flown West - John "Jack" McCarthy took his final flight West on May 12, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 6/4/2022 Flown West - Dennis Stoops took his final flight West on May 11, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 5/4/2022 Flown West - Peggy Ann Vivinetto took her final flight West on April 12
, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 4/26/2022 Flown West - Capt. Col. Richard E. Nelson, III took his final flight West on April 23, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 3/31/2022 Flown West - Capt. Reverend Peter Acquaro took his final flight West on March 26, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 3/18/2022 Flown West - Capt. Robert (Bob) W. Frutchey took his final flight West on March 14, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 3/1/2022 Flown West - Capt. Ray T. Thomas took his final flight West on February 22, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/21/2022 Flown West - Robert Dey took his final flight West on February 7, 2022 with his significant other, Barbara at his side to see him off. No other details are available at this time.
Updated 2/14/2022 Flown West - Stephen L. Szabolscky, 88, of Remington, passed away peacefully, Saturday, February 6, 2021, at Fauquier Hospital, Warrenton. We apologize for missing this at the time of his passing.
See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/6/2022 Flown West - James T. Weir, 96, of Indiatlantic, FL. , formerly of Big Beaver Borough, PA. passed away Feb. 1, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 1/31/2022 Flown West - Thomas P. O'Connell Sr., 85, of Wales, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Me See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 1/17/2022 Flown West - Brigadier General Charles E. McGee passed away peacefully at his home on January 16, 2022. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 12/30/2021 Flown West - Capt.
Stephen Haile Bradford passed away suddenly on December 27, 2021 at his home in MccMurray PA. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 12/23/2021 Flown West - Capt. Thomas Howell passed away December 18, 2021 after an extended illness. More information when it becomes available. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 11/22/2021 Flown West - Capt. Henry Patterson Nash passed away November 19, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 11/1/2021 Flown West - Capt. James (Jim) Gerard Garry passed away October 16, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 9/5/2021 2021 Convention Cancelled
On August 31, during a telephone conference call the Soaring Eagles board voted unanimously, and reluctantly to cancel this year's convention, and to reschedule it for next October. The tentative date is the weekend of Oct. 28, 29, and 30, 2022. The Meet & Greet would be on Friday Oct. 28, and the cruise would be on Saturday evening the 29th. The Banquet would be on Sunday evening the 30th.. All the rules that applied this year are unchanged with one notable exception. The board voted to subsidize a portion of the banquet expense, by reducing the charge to dues paying members to $25.00 instead of the normal charge of $45.00. This is in recognition of the fact that once again you paid your dues, and we had no convention. Guests and others would pay the normal rate of $45.00.
The board voted to hold the current board in place like we did last year unless someone comes up with a viable alternative. If you have one let us know what it is.
To say that the board and our advisers are disappointed would be a gross understatement, as we were on a pace to have a record-breaking convention. We were looking forward to another evening with our two former Chairmen, and I was looking forward to introducing our ten new members and presenting them with their membership cards. I want to thank all the members who signed up and made your reservations early as it made our job easier. When we firm up the dates for next year and get the go ahead from the hotel make your reservation early so we don't run into a problem with room availability and the special rate TBA.
The easiest way to cancel your reservation for 2021 is to call 1-888-236-2427 and do it directly with reservations.
Special thanks to Treasurer Captain Paul Sturpe who has done the bulk of the work in keeping track of the registration fees, and other charges, and designing the registration form, and program. Captain Sturpe will be refunding the convention fees, and other charges, and you may be hearing more from him in that regard. Thanks are also in order for Secretary Judi Todd who was making the name tags, and preparing the drink tickets. Judy Schmidt Colbath enticed many new members to join, and Al Mondell kept us all straight.
Finally, I hope you will read the message below that I sent to the board and advisers prior to our conference call and conclude that based on the totality of the information available to us that we made a prudent decision in the best interest of all our members.
Message to Board and advisers
The surge of covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths attributed to Covid 19, and its derivatives is on the rise nationwide, and specifically in Florida. The trend is in exactly the opposite direction than what we would hope for. Despite having a conservative Governor in DeSantis there is every reason to believe that there will be masking, and social distancing either mandated or strongly suggested by the medical community. Neither of these things is conducive to having the kind of convention to which we have become accustomed.
Mr. Schofield and Mr. Colodny our guest speakers have had to reluctantly withdraw their intent to attend. Mr. Schofield who is a heart transplant survivor would be foolish to attend and put his compromised immune system at risk, and Mr. Colodny has been advised by his physician not to expose himself unnecessarily to groups where the disease could be transmitted to him. Mr. Colodny 93, going on 94 described it as a Yellow Card. I could probably come up with an alternative program for the banquet night, but there are other considerations.
In order to get 100 plus individuals from the hotel to the Dinner Cruise vessel requires two charter buses. It is virtually impossible to socially distance from someone who is almost sitting in your lap, mask or no mask. Once on the vessel masking would still be recommended if not required.
At this time the hotel personnel are required to have had a covid vaccination, and to wear masks. Previous to that they simply had to show proof of vaccination, to go maskless. Although the hotel will not ask guests for proof of vaccination, they will urge their guests to wear the mask, and to social distance, whether or not they have been vaccinated. How that would affect our banquet experience is open to discussion.
Are there members of our group who are willing to take the risk of contracting the virus? Yes. Is there definitive medical data available to demonstrate the effectiveness of masks to deter the spread of the virus? The jury is still out. What is clear is that the trend is not favorable to us.
The bottom line is that we are responsible for the well-being, and health of all of our members, and as such have to take into account all of the available information before deciding to put them at risk unnecessarily.
I draw the following analogy. No pilot worth his salt would intentionally fly into an area of hazardous weather (thunderstorms) and put his passengers, and himself at risk. Many pilots have looked at the radar screen while looking for a safe route through a line of storms, and they see what they think is a safe path through the line. Once they get to that once-promising path it rapidly closes, and they have entered a "sucker hole". I am cautioning us not to get suckered by our overriding desire to "Get it done"
Distasteful as the thought of cancellation is, I would rather do that, and have a convention that is more like the last two that we had, than to have a half-assed abbreviated version.
Updated 9/3/2021 Flown West - Capt. John Webber passed away August 31, 2021. There will be a viewing on Saturday September 4, 2021 from 2:00 pm till 4:00 pm at:
Dobies Funeral Home 8825 Old Country Road New Port Ritchie, Florida
Updated 8/27/2021 Flown West - Capt. Eugene "Gene" J. Schumacher August 24, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 8/26/2021 Flown West - Capt. Alan P. Kasin August 22, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 8/13/2021 Flown West - Capt. Edward Joseph Colgan Jr. August 11, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 8/9/2021 Flown West - Capt. William Douglas Crawford August 6, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 7/31/2021 Flown West - Capt. Richard Noblett January 21, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 7/22/2021 Flown West - Capt. Pete Rebstock on May 27, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 7/10/2021 Flown West - Capt. James Francis Urbanski on July 4, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 5/28/2021 The 2021 Convention Program and Registration Form are now listed under the Resources Tab. (Subject to tweaks, check here often!)
Updated 5/26/2021 Flown West - Capt. Patrick Joseph Connolly on March 24, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 5/25/2021 Flown West - Capt. George Michael Crump on February 2, 2018. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 5/5/2021 Flown West - Capt. Norman Sigel Kerns on April 15, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 4/13/2021 Flown West - Capt. Donald Rae Hackert on April 1, 2021.
See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 3/29/2021 Flown East - Capt. James W Popa It is with a red face that we are happy to report that Capt. Popa called to say that he flew East. In other words the report of his demise in the March 2021 issue of Air Line Pilot magazine was erroneous. Capt. Popa says he is alive and well and living in Mooresville, NC.
Updated 3/20/2021 Flown West - Capt. John Taylor flew West
March 10, 2021. We have been advised per John's wishes there will be no services of any kind. Captain John Taylor
April 14, 1953 - March 10, 2021
Updated 3/18/2021 Flown West - Capt. Charles "Chuck" Forrester flew West
March 13, 2021. Pursuant to Chuck's request his passing was to be without an obituary, or service.
Updated 3/17/2021 Flown West - Capt. Arthur Michael Romano flew West
February 3, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 3/16/2021 Flown West - Capt. John Lunn flew West
March 5, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 3/4/2021 Flown West - Capt. Roger L Flenniken flew West
Februrary 7, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/18/2021 Flown West - Capt. Harvel Horrell, Jr. flew West
October 21, 2020. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/15/2021 Flown West - Capt. John T Gilbert flew West
February 6, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/15/2021 Flown West - Capt. Paul Leighton flew West
February 2, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/6/2021 Flown West - Capt. Roland James "check check" Wolfe flew West
December 5, 2020. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/5/2021 Flown West - Capt. Eugene C. "Gene" Conway flew West
February 4, 2021. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 2/2/2021 Flown West - Capt. James Ronald Putek flew West
January 25, 2021. See Pathfinders for more information and obituary.
Updated 12/29/2020 Flown West - Capt. Clarence "Blake" Smith, III flew West
December 25, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
Updated 12/29/2020 Flown West - Capt. Robert Kuehnle flew West
December 13, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
Updated 12/8/2020 In Memoriam - Sue Logan passed the week of December 6?, 2020. See Flight Attendant News for her obituary.
Updated 12/4/2020 Flown West - Capt. Edward Joseph Slattery, Jr. flew West
Novermber 29, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
Updated 12/1/2020 Flown West - Capt. Robert M. Toth flew West
Novermber 20, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
Updated 11/30/2020 Flown West - Capt. Larry Carl Niebanck flew West
October 29, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
Updated 9/25/2020 Flown West - Capt. Wayne Coburn "Coby" Johnson flew West
Sept 20, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
The following note is from Don Burrows. Also note that an update has been added to Capt. Mahoney's obit showing where you can send donations in Capt. Mahoney's memory if you are so inclined.
A chat today with Trish Mahoney revealed that she's holding her own but (NO surprise!) that she has her "moments". She's dealing with ALL the legal stuff that ensues when a death in the family occurs. My sis who lost her bubby on the 4th is dealing with the same. Patti & Trish talked also & was grateful that many are offering up supplications of healing & courage. In a box of pix found in the garage aka the cavern, yielded up many old pix from Army daze in RVN to a pix of Dick, Trish & me taken by Patti the day after Christmas '96. Happy & very good times @ our respective lake casas. A date for the final service @ Arlington still TBD! Be safe & well, all. When we daily pray (you really should, y'know) pray for the Mahoney's, our wonderful if imperfect country & that we won't lose it in our collective wisdom & efforts to improve & NOT destroy & for each other! I can't get my head around ALL the mayhem & destruction & the laissez faire attitude by some elected officials! Feckless & timid!!! Blue side up, take good care. D&P out west & thankfully 5 hrs. away from "Portlandia" & 6 from SEA!!! Peace!
Updated 7/16/2020 Flown West - Capt. Richard Patrick Mahoney flew West
July 14, 2020. See Pathfinders for his obituary.
Updated 7/12/2020 Flown West - Capt. Ronald "Ronnie" Howell flew West
exact date unknown. See Pathfinders for more
Updated 6/30/2020 Flown West - Capt. Louis Roert Nelson Sr. flew West
June 13, 2020. See Pathfinders for more
Deceased Flight Attendant - Joyce Elizabeth Phillips June 15, 2020. See Flight Attendant News for more information.
Updated 6/23/2020 Deceased Flight Attendant - Joyce Elizabeth Phillips June 15, 2020. See Flight Attendant News for more information.
Updated 6/14/2020 Flown West - Capt. Thomas Sierer flew West
June 11, 2020. See Pathfinders for more
Updated 6/14/2020 Flown West - Capt. Danny B Hamby flew West
June 10, 2020. See Pathfinders for more
Updated 6/12/2020 Flown West - Capt. Nevin Remaley flew West
June 2, 2020. See Pathfinders for more
Updated 5/12/2020 Capt. Martin Mylet:
Captain Martin M. "Marty" Mylet passed away on 5/5/20 at his home in Hazleton,
Pennsylvania. Captain Mylet began flying in the United States Air Force in
1959. His commercial flying career with USAir lasted over 30 years until
retirement in 1995. His home base was Pittsburgh International Airport. He is
survived by his wife, 3 children and 1 grandchild. Condolences can be emailed
to the Mylet family at YTRAM32@MSN.COM.
Updated 4/26/2020 Capt. Arlen Ingman:
We have just received word that Capt. Arlen Ingman passed away in a nursing home
in Bealeton, Va. He has been ailing for the past several years. We have no further
information. Because of the present Coronavirus situation the thinking is that
a memorial service will be held after the Coronavirus period has passed us.
Updated 4/21/2020 Shirley Kirby:
Shirley Kirby, wife of deceased pilot, Bill Kirby, passed away on April 17th
after a short hospital stay. She fell and broke three ribs and went downhill
very fast. She was 83. She will be cremated and buried at Bushnell with
her husband and son. There will be a celebration of her life sometime
after the corona virus is over.
12297 SE 86th Avenue
Belleview, Florida 34420
Updated 4/6/2020 Captain Ed Rickard:
Former Pittsburgh Base Chief Pilot, Captain Ed Rickard, passed away on Mar. 31, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer. Captain Rickard was 81 at the time of his passing, and had requested that he be cremated. At a later more suitable time his cremains will be interred in his beloved Wyoming.
His wife Betsy's contact information is provided below..
6152 Spinnaker Loop,
Lady Lake, Fl 32159
Updated 3/7/2020 From James Brown:
It is with great sadness that my best friend and mate passed away on March 4, 2020. Cheryl Horst Brown from the Flight Attendant class of 1969, known and referred to as "Pickle". She was Jim's co-pilot on the many years of RV travel. Her favorite being a camping trip to Yellowstone with early morning drives through the park looking for critters. Cheryl loved life and always had a great since of humor during her 17 years as a Flight Attendant. She has requested to not have a viewing or service, she will be interned at the Brown family plot in Johnson City, Tn.
Please no calls at this time but cards may be sent to Captain Jim Brown, 4328 Heritage Trail, Leesburg, Fl 34748.
Thank You, Soaring Eagles
Updated 2/7/2020 Flown West - Captain Robert V (Bob) Thompson flew West January 30, 2020. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 1/29/2020 Flown West - Captain Ed O'Brien flew West October 31, 2019. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 1/9/2020 Flown West - Captain Don Greenfield flew West January 8, 2020. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 12/31/2019 Soaring Eagles Dues Notice -
Dues for 2020 are due in January. Checks should be made to Soaring Eagles and sent to:
8860 Peninsula Dr
Terrell, NC 28682
- $40.00 for those who are younger than 80.
- $25.00 if you were age 80 before January 1, 2020.
- $00.00 if you were age 80 before January 1, 2017, however, you may voluntarily pay dues if you wish.
Paul Sturpe, Treasurer
Updated 12/30/2019 Flown West - Captain David Byron Kelley flew West December 28. See Pathfinders for obituary.
This is the beautiful framed print that was presented to Chairman Edwin I Colodny at this years Soaring Eagles Reunion. Mr Colodny generously donated it back to the Soaring Eagles so that it could be auctioned off, with the proceeds going into the Save Our Stinson Fund.
Bidding closes at midnight Dec. 31, 2019.
Those wishing to bid may do so by submitting your bid to firstname.lastname@example.org. Currently one bid has been submitted for the minimum of $350.00.
The successful bidder will be responsible for shipping costs. I will attempt to have Mr. Colodny write a note to be attached to the back of the framed print. I am not inclined to disturb the professional framing work.
Updated 12/25/2019 Flown West - Captain Herb Dudley flew West August 27, 2019 after an extended illness. See Pathfinders for obituary.
Updated 12/18/2019 Flown West - Captain Jack Semenko flew West December 15, 2019 after an extended illness. See Pathfinders for arrangements and obituary.
Posted and Revised 11/25/2019
A Friend Passes
Just info for those that went to Dr. Pete Parent for their Phy , that his wife Evelyn passed away this last week. Notes or cards can be sent to him at :
426 W Main St Monongahela Pa 15063
Revised 11/23/2019 Flown West - Captain Charles "Chuck" Croco Flew West November 23, 2019 after suffering either a heart attack or stroke. It is possible that
there were elements of both.
See Pathfinders for details.
Posted 11/15/2019 Flown West - Captain Gerald "Rod" Donovan
We just learned of Captain Donovan's passing. It occured 10/23/2018. s
name has been added to the Pathfinders list. No other details are
Posted 11/ /2019 Minutes of the 43rd Soaring Eagles Reunion
now listed under a new navigation button named
Posted 10/30/2019 Flown West - Captain Lester A. Roberts
See Pathfinders for details
Posted 10/30/2019Flown West - Captain Richard Pearson
See Pathfinders for details
Posted 10/30/2019 Flown West - Captain John Wholley
We just learned of Captain Wholley's flight West. He flew West in 2017.
See Pathfinders for details
Posted 10/9/2019 Flown West - Captain William Tracy
See Pathfinders for details
Posted 10/8/2019 Ship for our Soaring Eagles Cruise
Welcome to our newest members :
Pamela Stepanian=, Pat Riley, Jan Grieco, Pamela Dunlap, Vicki Johnson,
Pamela Orbe Barbara Gonzalez, Linda Friend, and Gayle McGlinn.
Sign up for the Reunion and welcome these Ladies in person.
Posted 9/29/2019 Flown West - Captain Bill Patchett
See Pathfinders for details
Posted 9/29/2019 Celebration of Life - Dan Friel
Barbara Pressley has planned a Celebration of Life for Dan Friel as
October 12, 2019 3:00 to 5:00 PM
American Legion Post 130
400 Oak St
Falls Church, VA 22046
An Eagle Flies West - Captain Charlie Boivin
See Pathfinders for details.
An Eagle Flies West - Captain Dan Friel
See Pathfinders for details.
An Eagle Flies West - Captain Earl Bates
See Pathfinders for details
An Eagle Flies West - Captain Earl Stone
See Pathfinders for details.
Reunion Hotel Reservations
When you are making hotel reservations via the internet, you can do
everything except to choose the option of a single room with two beds. In
consultation with the Sales Staff at Tampa Westshore Marriott we offer
the following guidance. Make all of your selections as you normally
would, then since you cannot select a two bed option, you will have to
contact the hotel. They will make that change for you. Simply email
or call her at 813-282-5812, and she will edit your reservation to
reflect a two bed option.
Welcome to our newest Eagle, Captain Doug Burke who is the son of Captain
Ed Burke who was hired by All American Airways in 1950. The Burke's were
able to fly together before Ed retired some years ago.
Information will now be found on the Button on the Top
Welcome New Eagles
Please join me in Welcoming our three newest Eagles.
Captain Ron Friedhoff, Allegheny DOH 1/79 and a retirement date exactly
one month from today. Welcome aboard the Soaring Eagles Captain Ron, and
Happy Retirement on 6/20/19.
Ginny Friedhoff, Ron's wife Allegheny DOH 1/79 and the date that she quit
flying is unclear at this time, but she did stop flying.
I had the pleasure of flying with the Friedhoff's when I was a fairly new
Captain in DCA,, and we had a great time. I look forward to reminiscing
with them about the good times at the upcoming reunion.
Our third new member Patricia Riley, was hired as a Flight Attendant by
Mohawk Airlines 5/69 and flew until 1/2005. She and her husband Robert
reside on the West Coast, but we hope they will be able to join us in
Tampa this year.
Captain Joe Kernan, President
The 2019 Reunion Registration Form has been added.
You can access it - - > HERE < - - or from the top navigation bar
under the Reunions Button.
Member dues are now payable January 31 each year. Current REGULAR dues
$40.00, Members age 80 by January 31st dues are reduced to $25.00.
The Soaring Eagles need your support. Make your check payable to the
USAir "Soaring Eagles" and mail to Treasurer:
Captain Paul Sturpe, 8860 Peninsula Drive, Terrell, NC 28682. Telephone
Remember to include an update of your status.
A new service for our membership.
Captain Sturpe has set up a PayPal account enabling you to send fees to
the Treasurer. Using your PayPal account make your funds payable through
We hope this service makes it easier to stay current as a Soaring
or u.s.= mail
Captain Paul Sturpe, 8860 Peninsula Drive, Terrell, NC 28682.
NEED A CURRENT MAILING ADDRESS for - PAUL HOWE
'Soaring Eagles' Officers for 2019
President - Joe Kernan
First Vice President - Judy Schmidt
Second Vice President - Alvahn Mondel
Secretary - Judi Todd
Treasurer - Paul Sturpe
Immediate Past President - John Davis
Advisors - Bill Leefe, Bob Knapp, Seth Schofield, Counsel- Ron Natalie
We are taking reservations for the Soaring Eagles Convention which will be held at the Marriott Westshore Tampa, Florida on October 28, 29, 30, 2022.
Hotel reservations and convention registration information can be obtained by clicking on the "Conventions" tab above.
Please be sure your dues are up to date as this is a requirment to qualify for the free cruise (paid for by the Soaring Eagles to the first 100 qualified registrants.)
Questions about the convention registration should be directed to the officers listed on the convention registration form.
On May 27, 2021, the Soaring Eagles Executive Board voted unanimously to confer Honorary
Membership on J. Peter Schuetz. Peter was originally hired by Mohawk Airlines. He was active as
a dispatcher and later became Operations Manager. Peter was a great guy to work with and will
be a welcome addition to our membership.
Paul Sturpe, Treas.
For the Board
Air Mail Pickup:
On Aug. 14, 2020, the Soaring Eagles Executive Board voted unanimously to confer Honorary
Membership on Brigadier General Charles McGee.
Instrumental to the growth of the Tuskegee Airmen Association, he holds the record of 409
aerial fighter combat missions over three wars. Military honors include the Legion of Merit
with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with Two Clusters, two Presidential Unit
Citations, and many others.
Charles McGee entered this world in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 7, 1919, the second of three
children born to Lewis McGee, Sr. and Ruth McGee. With Charles' father being a minister,
teacher, and social worker, the McGee family moved often, living in Ohio, Florida, West
Virginia, Illinois, and Iowa. After graduating from Chicago's DuSable High School in 1938, he
earned money for college by working in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Attending the
University of Illinois in 1939, he joined the ROTC and was a member of the Pershing Rifles. It
was there that Charles met the love of his life, Frances Nelson.
With war declared after Pearl Harbor, Charles heard the army was recruiting to train colored
soldiers as mechanics at nearby Chanute Field, for the expected colored soldiers' flight
program. He applied for a pilot's slot in this experimental squadron and passed the
examination. With his call to service inevitable and college completion doubtful, that fall
Charles worked at a steel mill. He and Frances were married on October 17, 1942. Two days later
he received his orders and soon was at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama to begin rigorous
flight training with his fellow black cadets.
On June 30, 1943, Charles graduated from flight school in Class 43-F. By the beginning of 1944,
Second Lieutenant McGee had joined the pioneering all-black 332nd Fighter Group, 12th Air Force
- flying P-39 Airacobras from a base near Naples, Italy. By May of 1944, the 332nd was with the
15th Air Force, flying P-47 Thunderbolts - and later, P-51 Mustangs - on fighter sweeps and
long-range bomber escort missions out of Ramatelli. The 332nd, also known as the "Red Tails",
soon earned the respect of their Luftwaffe counterparts and of the white bomber crews they
protected. By November of 1944, with 136 missions and a Focke Wulf 190 to his credit, Charles
was heading home.
He returned to Tuskegee as a twin-engine instructor. Upon war's end, the Tuskegee Army Air
Field was closed, and Charles joined the 477th Composite Group at Lockbourne Air Base, near
Columbus, Ohio, in 1946. After several stateside assignments, May 1950 found Charles in the
Philippines at Clark Field, as Base Operations Officer.
June 1950. Another war broke out - in Korea. Charles soon found himself back in a Mustang and
in combat, with the 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron based out of Pusan. Over his tour, Charles
flew 100 low-level bombing and strafing missions. Returning to Clark, Charles took command of
the 44th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, eagerly transitioning into the F-80 jet fighter. In 1953,
Charles graduated from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base and later
flew F-89 Scorpions with the Air Defense Command.
Charles was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1959. The McGee's and their three children spent
the next few years on assignments in Italy, North Dakota and Missouri. By 1967, another war -
Vietnam - called Charles into combat. Leading the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron out of
Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon, he flew RF-4C Phantoms on 173 more dangerous missions.
The Air Force next sent Charles to Germany, promoting him to Colonel in 1969. In June 1972 he
took command of the 1840th Air Base Wing at Richards-Gebauer, near Kansas City, Missouri. On
January 31, 1973, after 30 years of military service, Charles retired from the Air Force. His
409 aerial fighter combat missions over three wars is a record that still stands.
Charles' military honors include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished
Flying Cross with Two Clusters, two Presidential Unit Citations, and many others. Charles then
went back to school, finally earning that long-delayed degree. His civilian career included
serving as Vice President of a real estate holding company, and Manager of the Kansas City
He was instrumental to the growth of the Tuskegee Airmen Association, and his many additional
honors include the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, the National Aeronautics Association Elder
Statesman of Aviation induction, the Air Force Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and, on
March 27, 2007, as a Tuskegee Airman, the Congressional Gold Medal. Charles remains a highly
sought after speaker and, with his motto of "Do while you can", continues to inspire young and
At the appropriate time, I will go to Washington to make the formal presentation of the various
artifacts that will signify General McGee's membership in our organization. We are honored and
pleased that the General accepted our Honorary Membership. We are honored to welcome him to our
When the Covid 19 Pandemic became the overriding concern for all the world, I began to have
concerns about its the impact on our ability to conduct our 44th, Soaring Eagles Reunion as
As you all know the Reunion is the centerpiece of our year, and an event that many of our
members look forward to attending. Believe me I look forward to it as much as anyone does.
You may have noticed that I have not sent out any messages encouraging attendance, as I
normally would have done by June. I was waiting to assess the status of the various states that
were in lock down and had various other restrictions in place.
Although our event is held in Florida, our membership is scattered all over the country, and
are subject to the regulations in the various states where they reside.
The state of the Airline Industry was also a factor to be considered, as many of our members
Non-Rev to the reunion, and some purchase full fare tickets.
Although we have a few members under the age of 65, the vast majority are in the vulnerable
category as defined by the CDC. As a matter of fact, most are in the upper reaches of the
After discussion with the Tampa West Shore Marriott it is not possible to determine with any
certainty what the conditions in Florida will be in late October. As an example, there may
still be social distancing regulations in effect. Although Florida seems to be opening a little
quicker than other states, there are still the unknown elements. Masks or, six-foot separation
simply would not work for us.
Every year at the end of the reunion we execute the contract for the next reunion, and we did
that in 2019. Ron Natalie reviewed that contract and advised that absent Federal or State
restrictions being in place at the time of the reunion, The Soaring Eagles could be held to the
provisions of that contract that deal with cancellation. Cancellation at this time would have
made the Soaring Eagles subject to $8500.00 in liquidated damages. Notwithstanding this
provision I was able to work out an alternate resolution with the hotel management.
By agreeing to rebook the reunion for October 22, 23, 24, 2021 the Tampa West Shore Marriott
has agreed to credit The Soaring Eagles with the $8500.00 dollars in liquidated damages that
would have been due had we not re-booked the event.
I advised the Soaring Eagles Board, and advisers of the foregoing information, and it was with
great reluctance, and sadness that the decision was made to cancel the 44th Annual Soaring
Eagles Reunion and reschedule for the above-mentioned date.
Some may say, "Well I would have attended". Others and I on the board would have said the same
thing. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of putting our members' health at risk, or the
organization's financial health for that matter. Simply put, better to err on the side of
We hate it, but it is what it is.
For the Board
This website is intended to recognize the contribution made by Employees and Managers who built
USAir became an airline created by mergers involving
several airline companies which brought effective resources to the system in the form of
routes, equipment and well qualified employee groups.
The management team developed by Mr. Leslie O. Barnes began a movement toward a growth pattern
developing into one of the largest and most efficient airlines in the world. Mr. Barnes was
succeeded by Edwin I. Colodny as President and Chairman. Mr. Colodny established a great
management team that included Mr. Seth "Butch" Schofield, who eventually became President and
These officers took advantage of opportunity to grow and prosper. Mergers were brought to
completion that considered the welfare of all employees in addition to strengthening the
airline marketplace standing.
Allegheny, Lake Central, Mohawk, Pacific Southwest, Piedmont are the airlines that formed
Chairman Leslie O. Barnes and Flight Attendants introduce
modern jet prop service using the Napier powered Convair. The Napier powered Convair was short
lived. It was replaced by the Allison powered 580 Convair. The seven Flight Attendants wearing
the bright colored outfits were on loan from Hawaii as a promotional plan for the service.
Retired Chairman Ed Colodny accepts his Eagle Award from the
Soaring Eagles in recognition of his outstanding service to USAir
and the employee groups. Mr. Colodny's appreciation is obvious.
Retired Chairman and CEO Seth "Butch" Schofield displays his
Soaring Eagles Award recognizing his outstanding service to USAir
and the employee groups.
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