July 25, 2008
Retired Col. Wayne Earl Thurman, 97, of McPherson, passed away at 12:05 a.m., on Friday, July 25th, 2008 peacefully at The Cedars Health Care Center, McPherson, Kansas. . Colonel Wayne Earl Thurman, of McPherson Kansas, died Friday, July 25, 2008 at the Cedars Health Care Center, McPherson, Kansas. .He was born in October 11, 1910 on the family farm in the Lower Lodi community in Custer County, Nebraska to George Albert Thurman and Nora Van Cleave, one of six children. He attended Lower Lodi School and graduated from Callaway High School in 1928. He was employed as an operator of a crawler-type tractor for 2 years in construction and maintenance of public roads and highways, prior to college. He entered the College of Engineering, University of Nebraska in 1930, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Engineering in January 1936. After employment as an Assistant Agricultural Engineer at the University of Nebraska Extension Service for nearly 2 years, he entered flying training at the U.S. Army Pilot Training School at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas. He won his pilot wings and received a commission as 2nd Lt. in October 1938 at Kelly Field, Texas. He married Virginia Ruth Reider December 25, 1938, at Lincoln and to this union was born a daughter, Ann Elizabeth, who died in 1971 of cancer at the age of 29. Wayne was privileged to fly 38 types of military aircrafts at several different bases of assignment before flying overseas to Europe in September 1942. The over-the-Atlantic-ocean flight to Prestwick, Scotland was accomplished in a combat ready B - 17 Flying Fortress with 12 crew members, loaded machine guns and all the baggage needed in the European Theater of operations. Wayne successfully completed 50 air combat missions over Europe as a Pilot in a P - 38 and B - 17 during his 18 months in Europe and Africa in World War II. In this time he photographically mapped the air route from West to East in Central Africa; commanded a heavy Bombardment Group of B-17's (2500 officers and enlisted men), including acres of support equipment, gasoline and bombs. He was pilot of the lead Bomber of several 15th Air Force missions over Europe. One of the largest formations of B-17's and B-24's he led on a bombing target (an enemy aircraft factory) was 98 Bombers and 50 Fighter aircrafts. After completing 50 missions and before leaving for the U.S.A. He had been promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel which was awarded in September 1943.. Col. Thurman returned to the United States in March 1944, after flying 50 missions, he was then assigned to the War Department General Staff European Theater in the Pentagon. Soon there after Wayne was assigned to General Marshal's Chef of Staff Office as assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, General Thomas T. Handy where he was promoted to full Colonel. While in the Pentagon, Colonel Thurman was selected as one of the pilots who flew General and Mrs. Eisenhower on a good will tour to South America and Mexico. Also while in the Pentagon he accompanied 4-star General Thomas T. Handy on an inspection trip to the Far East. During the inspection Wayne and four other officers had lunch in the U.S. Embassy formal dining room with General and Mrs. Douglas Mac Arthur who with their 12 year old son were the sole occupants of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. He was then assigned to Command Chanute Air Force Base for 2 years as Commander of Aircraft Maintenance Training. In 1950 he returned to the Pentagon as Secretary of the Air Staff, headquarters of the United States Air Force. At the end of this Pentagon assignment he completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard University School of Business Administration, and the Senior Officers Course at the Naval War College. A command pilot for 22 years, Col. Thurman logged over 6,000 hours of pilot time, 1,000 hours of which he piloted subsonic and supersonic fighter aircrafts. He flew supersonic F-101, F-102, F-104, and the F-106 beyond the speed of sound. (The F-104 flies twice the speed of sound, 1400 miles-per-hour.) Col. Thurman's career decorations are the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters, Presidential Unit Citation, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 7 Battle Stars, American Theater Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Medal; The Air Force Longevity Service Medal with one silver oak leaf cluster, and the War Service Medal, presented by the Brazilian Government. One further award was the Callaway High School outstanding Alumni Award for his life time of service to his country. Col. Thurman was a member of the University of Nebraska “N” Club, University of Nebraska Rifle Team; University of Nebraska Pershing Rifles; Veterans of Foreign Wars; and the National Rifles Association. Business contacts included Vice-President of Professional Society of Harvard University Graduate Business School Club, Syracuse, New York, 1962-1963 member of the Harvard Advanced Management Association, Northern California (San Francisco) and Phoenix, Arizona. In a letter dated March 31, 1968 that he received from General J.P. McConnel, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force who stated… “you should take just pride in your outstanding combat record during World War II As pilot of a B-17 aircraft you led a flight of Bombers in a raid over enemy aircraft factor at Weiner-Neustadt, Austria. Due to your professional skill and superior leadership, heavy damage was inflicted on the vital objective, thereby disrupting approximately 50% of the enemy's fighter output and destroying a large amount of material and equipment.” Col. Thurman retired April 1, 1968 from the Air Force. He is survived by sister-in-laws, Maurine Thurman, of Alexandria, Virginia, and Mabel Thurman, of McPherson, Kansas; many nieces and nephews:, Virginia Perkins and her husband Wayne of Tucson, Arizona, Barbara Spencer and her husband Dr. Beryl, of Ogallala, Nebraska, A. Ronald Thurman and wife Judy, of Bryson City, North Carolina, Marilyn Ragland, of Riverside, Connecticut, Betty Jean Imes and her husband Douglas, of Hays, Kansas, Robert Davis and his wife Patricia, of San Ramon, California, Charles Davis and his wife Lynn, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, Fred Turner, of Berwyn, Illinois, Jon Lebsack, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Joan Dreher and husband Wesley, of Arvada, Colorado, Duane Thurman and wife Joan, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Keith Thurman and wife Shirley, of Tensleep, Wyoming, Maryann Jackson, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, John Thurman, of Alexandra, Virginia, Janet Murphy of Boston, Massachusetts, Joyce Williams and husband Robert, of Acton, Massachusetts, Douglas Thurman, of Alexandria, Virginia and Dolores Weatherly and husband Dick, of McPherson, Kansas; other relatives and many friends. He was preceded in death by his wife, of 67 years, Virginia Thurman; his brothers, Gerald, Lloy, Clifford, and Dale Thurman; and a sister, Fern Thurman Davis.VISITATIONSunday, July 27, 2008From 1 to 5 p.m. with family present from 3 to 5 p.m.At the Glidden—Ediger ChapelMcPherson, Kansas.GRAVESIDE SERIVCES11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 29, 2008Crown Hill Cemetery, Denver, ColoradoBy Olinger Crown MortuaryFamily request donations to Callaway Engineering Scholarship Fund in care of the Glidden - Ediger Funeral Home; 222 West Euclid Street; McPherson, Kansas 67460.
Retired Col. Wayne Earl Thurman, 97, of McPherson, passed away at 12:05 a.m., on Friday, July 25th, 2008 peacefully at The Cedars Health Care Center, McPherson, Kansas. . Colonel Wayne Earl Thurman, of McPherson Kansas, died Friday, July 25,... View Obituary & Service Information
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