CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Retired Air Force Brig. General Chuck Yeager was remembered at a memorial service on Friday as a hero, legend and friend who would go out of his way to help others.
Vice President Mike Pence began service in the home state of Yeager, West Virginia, calling him “America’s Greatest Aviator” during a 15-minute speech that detailed the Yeager’s military career.
“America will always cherish the memory, service and example of General Chuck Yeager,” said Pence.
In numerous video tributes, others have spoken of the human side of Yeager, who died on December 7 at the age of 97. His love for growing tomatoes. For hunting and fishing. His work as a conservationist. And his love for the Oak Ridge Boys.
Friend Sean Duffy said Yeager was involved in conservation fundraising efforts that have enabled a generation of children to enjoy the outdoors.
“It was a class act,” Duffy said.
Former astronaut Charles Duke said Yeager was the commanding officer of his pilot school when he applied for the space program in 1965. Yeager “was a great boss, a great mentor and a great encouragement to all of his students,” Duke said.
Caleb Deschanel, director of photography for the 1983 film “The Right Stuff,” said that when Yeager wanted to go to test pilot school, the jaws of elite students would drop when they saw him.
“When the best of the best are honored by your presence, that’s what it takes,” said Deschanel.
The World War II fighter pilot ace became the first person to fly faster than sound in 1947. He flew for over 60 years and flew an F-15 at nearly 1000 mph (1609 km / h) at Edwards Air Force Base in October 2002 at age. 79.
Yeager was born on February 23, 1923 in Myra, about 40 miles southwest of Charleston. The family then moved to Hamlin, the county seat.
Yeager and his first wife, Glennis Dickhouse, had four children. She died in 1990.
He remarried in 2003 to Victoria Scott D’Angelo. She said on Friday the couple met on a hiking trail. They came back together for a hike the next day. She said he had hugged her and it was “safe, warm, faithful”.
She said Yeager taught her to fly, fish and hunt.
Next to Victoria Yeager on stage was an empty chair. She closed her remarks by paraphrasing what her husband said at a memorial to fallen police and firefighters in New York City.
“This chair may look empty, but it’s not,” she says. “It’s full of memories, and none of you ever forgets. Don’t let your children forget, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, ultimately, who this man is, who he was and everything he did.
- According to the source Pence speaks at memorial service for Yeager in West Virginia.
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