Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
William J. “Bill” Fitzgerald, Lt., Colonel, USAF (Retired)
June 25, 1925 – January 26, 2018
Veteran of WWII, Korean War & Vietnam War
It is with great sadness that the family of Bill Fitzgerald announces his passing after a brief illness on Friday, January 26, 2018, at the age of 92 years.
Bill Fitzgerald was born in Cambridge, Mass on June 25, 1925 and was the third of five children of two immigrants from Ireland. He spent his early childhood attending St John’s school, graduating young at 16. After high school, Bill worked as a welder before joining the Navy, serving for 2.5 years during WWII.
Under the GI Bill, he graduated from University of Massachusetts at Amherst and as a member of the Air Force ROTC, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation and called to active duty during the Korean War.
He married his sweetheart, Anne Tierney during the following Christmas Holidays. After the birth of their first daughter, Elaine, in Massachusetts, Anne joined Bill at his duty station in Greenland, where he was serving a 2-year tour as a navigator on B-17 and SA-16 sea search and rescue planes at Narsarssuak Airbase in Greenland. His son, Sean was born while living in Greenland.
Next assignment was more scenic – Hamilton AFB, northern Marin county, CA, where Bill was a navigator on B-29’s. During this assignment, Bill and Anne’s third child, Jan, was born. He received primary flight training on PA-18 and T-6 at Malden Air Force Base, Missouri, followed by training on T-28 & B-25 aircraft at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo.
Sporting new pilot wings, he was sent to helicopter training at San Marcos AFB, TX, where he was qualified in H-13 and H-19 helicopter flight. He took his family by sea to the next assignment at Manston England AFB. Child four, Siobhan, was born, and Bill was assigned to special duty in an underground Search & Rescue Command Center, where the US Air Force covertly monitored European airspace during the Cold War.
That group was subsequently assigned to Ramstein, Germany, AFB, a USAF European Search & Rescue group headquarters. At that time Bill flew C-47’s all over Europe, achieving Senior Pilot rating. It was during this tour that Shane, child five, was born.
Reassigned next as Helicopter Detachment Commander, Bill and family moved to Valdosta AFB, GA, flying rescue helicopters at the F-86 Training Base. At Griffith AFB, NY, they joyously welcomed their sixth child, Maura, followed 2 1/2 years later by the birth of their seventh child, Kristen.
Immediately after the birth of their last child, Bill was deployed to Da Nang. During the Vietnam War, Bill served alongside South Vietnamese Air Force, as both advisor and pilot, transporting South Vietnamese officers on H-34 helicopters.
Following his Vietnam tour, Bill and family moved to his final assignment at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX, where he retired as Lt. Colonel after 23 years of service which spanned three wars. During his service Bill flew over 5000 hours in helicopter and fixed wing aircraft.
As a civilian, Bill began a new career in aviation management, starting at Wichita Falls Airport, followed by a position in Operations Management, instrumental in the opening of DFW airport in 1974. He served next as Executive Director at Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport and finished that career as Executive Director at Centennial Airport, a major general aviation airport in Denver. Now retiring from this second career, Bill & Anne settled in San Antonio where he could live his dream of golfing daily year-round. After 50 years of marriage, Anne was called to heaven after a battle with cancer.
Both grateful for a second opportunity for love, Bill started a new life with Connie Thomae Mason, blending two family cultures in marriage and making the most of each day in love, travel and happiness, shared with an ever-expanding number of family and friends. For over 15 years, he relished delighting his beloved grandchildren with way more ice cream and sprinkles than they were allowed to have. He embraced all “projects” and even got firsthand experience in ranching in Texas. Bill will be remembered for his tireless energy as a dedicated and loving husband, father, and grandfather, son-in-law, and brother, an avid golfer, and a friend to all who met him.
He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Connie T. Fitzgerald; children: Elaine Claire, Sean Fitzgerald (Kathleen), Jan Magnussen (Rich), Siobhan Conway (Granville), Shane Fitzgerald (Jessica), Maura Fitzgerald, Kristen Fitzgerald; stepchildren: Debi Castro (Louis), Jimmy Mason (Megan), Tom Mason (Noreen), 24 adoring grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, and his last surviving sibling, Joe Fitzgerald. Visitation will be on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm at Porter Loring on McCullough.
FEBRUARY 14, 2018
PORTER LORING CHAPEL
FEBRUARY 15, 2018
ST. BRIGID CATHOLIC CHURCH
Interment in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Missionary Sisters of Maryknoll, P.O. Box 317, Maryknoll, NY 10545. Or, call their Donor Relations Department at (914) 941-7575. You are invited to sign the guestbook at www.porterloring.com. Arrangements with
Published by San Antonio Express-News from Feb. 11 to Feb. 12, 2018.
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