| posted by Joe Hice |

Eulogy for a Hero

Col. Joseph S. Hice, USAF (RET), was born in Cherry Log, GA on February 28, 1928. While times weren’t always easy – growing up in Cherry log could never be easy – he led a good life.

He would proudly tell everyone he met about the family farm and sawmill, the apple orchard and the railroad. If you knew dad for a day you knew he held the record for the 100-yard dash at Ellijay High School and Drove a school bus along North Georgia’s mountain roads when he was just 15.
That was about the time he began to dream of a life in the sky; being a pilot.

Dad joined the Army Air Corp when he was just 17. He tried to join earlier, but Mama Hice found out. That was not about to happen to her little boy.

Even though he wasn’t the youngest of the kids – that claim goes to Uncle Searcy – he was the smallest, but aviation fit him like a glove.

He became an officer candidate a little more than a year after he enlisted and entered flight school, the youngest in his class. And that was a big deal back then. He graduated, at the top of his class…

He also met our Mom, Phil, in Washington, after he completed his combat flight training. A friend had set him up with a blind and when my mom walked into the room – even before he met her – he said he was going to marry THAT girl. They were married for almost 60 years.

When they were dating he used to fly from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to Washington, D. C. on weekends just to see her.
From time to time he was known to do a flyover and Wing Wave down the valley in Cherry Log on his way back.

He went on to fly the T-3, Stearman, P-51 (his favorite), B-25, F-84, F-86, F-100, F-104, KC 135, B-52 and more.

He led the first flight to circumnavigate the globe without landing. 49 hours in the air. Can you even imagine. He retired after a magnificent 21-year career as a Colonel.

Dad was smart and good with people and that’s probably why the Air Force General Staff adopted him. He spent most of his time flying with Generals, Heads of State and other military leaders. He contributed his thoughts and ideas to running the Strategic Air Command.

He helped create the Looking Glass program which put aircraft in the sky 24 hours a day, 365 days a year during the Cold War. He helped keep America safe.

He saw the need for that program during the Cuban Missile Crisis when his squadron of U-2s and other reconnaissance aircraft – SPY PLANES — discovered Soviet missile sites on the island. They were pointed toward Florida.  He briefed President Kennedy about the situation and helped the nation, and the world, avoid World War III.

Following the Air Force he went on to a long career with Eastern Airlines where he was the chief flight instructor. If you flew Eastern during the 70s, 80s or 90s, chances were that dad and his team had trained the flight crew.

He never really retired. After Eastern he tried his hand at Real Estate. He could sell anything and was an active realtor until he was 90.

Speaking of selling anything, after our mom and the kids, he loved automobiles. The house in Miami usually looked like a car lot. In fact, it still does.

He probably owned more than 500 Pontiacs, Fords, Chevrolets, Ferraris, Porsches and Mercedes. Then there were the Cadillacs and Corvettes. Boy did he love his Cadillacs and Corvettes. When he died last month he still had two 1984 Corvettes sitting in the garage just waiting for him to find time to restore them.

We are all going to miss Dad. He was an amazing father and role model. An amazing Grandfather and Great Grandfather. An amazing friend and mentor.

He led a wonderful life and we’re all so happy he was with us for so long.

So, after 91 years, it’s time to say goodbye.

So dad, as you used to tell us all, Fly Low and Slow … and keep the doors open.

Mom and a whole bunch of angels are out there who want to hitch a ride and fly with you.

10 – 4, Roger and Out.

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