Wednesday, May 20, 2009

US Air Force journal's obituary for my grandfather

An Air Force journal recently published this obituary of my grandfather:

Colin F. Burch, Jr.(1919-2008) retired from the Air Force at the grade of Colonel after 21 years of active military service. After graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA in 1940, he was commissioned in the US Army Reserve as a Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers and entered active duty. He completed primary flying training at Parks Air College, IL. He graduated from the Air Corps Advanced Flying School, Maxwell Field, AL, and transferred to the Air Corps Reserve in 1941. In 1946 he became a Senior Pilot and in 1956 was awarded the rating of command pilot. He accumulated over 4500 flying hours in conventional and jet aircraft including overseas tours in Japan and Hawaii.

Col. Burch directed the program involving the first use of digital computers in air defense. He planned, organized and directed the first research and development program to provide the nation with a defense against the ballistic missile. He helped prepare the development plan for the “Man-In-Space” program handling the Lunar Reconnaissance portion. The first Joint Air Force/Army Communications Satellite Program was also under his direction, as well as the first Advanced Research and Development Program for Ballistic Missile and Space Systems for the Air Force. His survivors include his wife, Audrey Weibel Burch, 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

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