Veteran of the Sky

With Veteran’s Day actually being yesterday, but being observed today as well, our vets get 2 salutes to their hard work and dedication.

As they should. Without their sacrifice, none of the greatness of America would exist. Serving the country through military service crosses racial, economic, and religious barriers. For some families, serving in the military is a generational point of pride. Chances are that somewhere down your family line, you have had someone in your family serve in the US armed forces.

My family is no different. My father served, as did my grandfather and various scores of uncles and cousins. One family member in particular, retired USAF Major John H. Yancy, II, is probably the most unique of my family that has served our nation. At 87, he is one of the few remaining WWII veterans still around.

John joined the Army like many young men after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Challenge was that he could not join in 1941, as he was too young. He had to wait until 1943, which would also be the year he met his wife to be Jean. According to John, with the war in full operation, all the good positions for the training schools were gone. So John was assigned to the Air Corps and became a mechanic and began working on bombers. John would end up being a crack mechanic and work on every bomber built for US operations during the war. He would spend most of his time in WWII in Britain during the Nazi air raids. As John describes it, it was not a fun place to be at the time.

Once the war ended, John stayed in the army. He was not only a great mechanic, but was being prepped for a position on flight crews. After WWI, John would be part of the original Army Air Corps that would become the US Air Force in 1947.

John would also serve in Korea as part of bomber flight crews. According to John, many of their flights got a tad close to China. Of the numerous successful bomb runs he was a part of during Korea, he did experience one crash in the frozen tundra of N Korea. Fortunately, no one on the crew were injured or killed, but the wait for rescue was an experience John is not fond of talking about. His experience and skills allowed John to be part of the first crews that began the era of jet aircraft.

During the Cold War, he spent time at what was known then as Carswell Air Force Base testing the new B58 bomber and testing the new speeds of jets. John was on the flight crew that broke the mach 1 and mach 2 barriers in the early 1960’s. He was also part of the flight crew that tested a little known technology called Doppler Radar that we take for granted in weather forecasting.

In all, his career would span nearly 3 decades and 3 wars in support of the US air tactical efforts.

After retiring from the military, John went into business for himself, raised 3 kids, and lived American Dream he helped to defend.

Today, closing in on his 88th birthday, John finds fascination in the new “toys” that the Air Force has been given to protect our great nation.  A great deal of the testing he was a part of in the 1960’s carries through in the jet planes of today.

While he is long past being able to be part of the new jets that keep our nation safe, his love for the sky has never waned. If it has wings and can fly or can produce a speed to blow back one’s hair – John loves it.

So, I hope you’ll pardon my self-indulgence in this post on my cousin retired US Air Force Major John H Yancy, II.

He is a patriot and a zealot for speed.

And a Veteran of the Sky.

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