Charles Herbert Pyle Jr.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Charles Herbert Pyle Jr., 85, a retired U.S. Air Force major and command pilot, passed away at home on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Arlington. Charles "Herb" Pyle Jr. was born Jan. 22, 1929, in Nevada, Mo., to Charles H. Pyle and Evelyn Rebecca Pyle.

He attended Nevada High School where he was student body president, captain of the football team, and set many conference records in track and field, placing second in the state of Missouri for the 440-yard-dash during his senior year. He accepted a full athletic scholarship for football and track to the University of Missouri.

During his time at the University of Missouri, he enlisted in the National Guard. Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, Herb joined the U.S. Air Force and entered the Aviation Program. Upon graduation, he earned wings and a commission as a second lieutenant from the All Weather Intercept program.

His first assignment was to Kinchloe AFB in Michigan, where he met and fell in love with Florence Arlene Fogelsonger. They were married on June 12, 1954, in St. Ignace, Mich. Shortly thereafter, he entered the U.S. Air Force Pilot Training Program and after earning his pilot's wings, he was assigned to the KB50 Air Refueling Squadrons at Yokota, Japan, Langley, Va., and Sculthorpe, England.

During his nine years flying KB50 Tankers, he was heavily involved in the development of the Tactical Air Command Mobile Response program; whereby fighters and bombers could be deployed worldwide instantly with the aid of Air to Air refueling.

His next assignment in England was as military flight service controller for England, Norway and the North Atlantic. Upon completion of his tour in England, he was sent directly to Vietnam as a forward air controller flying a Cessna O-1 Birddog, which he used to direct fighter/bomber air strikes while flying low over the target. During his tour, Herb flew over 803 combat missions at or below 1,500 feet. Herb's aircraft was hit numerous times and even shot down once.

As a result of his expertise and bravery he was awarded several medals, including: the Distinguished Flying Cross, 18 different air medals, the Purple Heart and many Vietnam specific decorations. Upon completion of his Vietnam tour, he was back in air refueling and assigned to Beale AFB in California, flying the KC135, which were dedicated to supporting the SP 71 (Blackbird) reconnaissance program.

After retiring from the military in 1971 at the rank of major, Herb moved his family to Arlington and was employed by GMAC as a heavy duty truck and leasing specialist, until retiring in 1994. Herb spent his retirement years enjoying time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. He attended various military reunions and events throughout the country.

He is survived by Arlene Pyle, his loving wife of 60 years; daughters, Linda Blackman and husband, Mark, of Fort Worth, Susan Rowell and husband, Dean, of Calgary, Canada, Kathy Pyle of Arlington, and Lori Robinson and husband, Jack, of Weatherford; grandchildren, Amanda Blackman and Jerod Blackman, of Fort Worth, and Jenny Rowell and Benjamin Rowell, of Calgary, Canada; brother, Steve Pyle, of Nevada, Mo.; and sister, Judy Capps, of Joplin, Mo. Charles was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Mary Feller, of Nevada, Mo.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m., today, at Wade Family Funeral Home, 4140 W. Pioneer Parkway, Arlington Funeral Home. He will be inurned in a private service at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.