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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Howard Edward Funk, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)May 26, 1924 – April 04, 2016
Lt. Colonel Howard Edward Funk, USAF Retired, 91, passed away on Monday, April 4, 2016.
Burial with military honors will be at Dallas/Fort Worth National Cemetery at 9:30AM on Friday, April 6, 2016.
Howard is survived by his loving wife of nearly 70 years, Doris Irene Rust Funk, his son Michael and his wife Irene and his daughter Pam and her husband Dave Gangl. He has three grandchildren, Fallon Fahrendorf and her husband Matt of Phoenix, Arizona, Kaitlyn Taylor Kuczer and her husband David of Dallas, Texas and Kaitlyn Ann Martin Fox and her husband Blake of Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Carlos Isaac Funk; his mother, Sara Leota Colwell; his sister Evelyn Cyr; brothers, Gerald Funk and William (Bill) Funk all preceded him in death.
Lt. Col. Funk was born on July 26, 1924, in Clyde, Kansas and later moved to Milo, Missouri where he and his family were farmers. He loved books and reading so after graduation from El Dorado High School he enlisted in the Army Air Force as an Aviation Cadet on April 1943. After earning his wings he continued to serve as a pilot until he left the service in April 1947. During this time, he was stationed at various stateside locations for further aircraft upgrade training for multi engine aircraft. In 1945 he went to Japan after the war in the Pacific ended for C-47 flying and additional duties as a Supply Officer.
After returning to the United States he served at Fort Worth Texas Army Air Field where he met the love of his life, Irene Rust. He often said she was the best thing that ever happened to him. On June 2, 1946, they were married in Chapel One on the Army Base.
After leaving the Army Air Corps in 1947, he began work in the Sport Department until he reentered the Air Force in April 1953. During this time, he stayed active in the Air Force Reserves flying various aircraft out of James Connolly Air Base in Waco, Texas. Also, during this time he served as a Pilot Observer and Flight Engineer but primarily as a Pilot. He also had numerous additional duties from Supply Officer to Aircraft Test Pilot for damaged aircraft.
He was modest and didn’t talk much about what he accomplished but he received many honors and awards in his career including the Air Force Commendation Medal and Clusters at the hardest earned three air combat medals during his combat tour in Southeast Asia. He was often praised for his dedication to his job whether flying or routine paperwork. He was a hard worker; his commanders noted he was above average in intelligence and above average skill as a pilot and strong leadership abilities. His character was above reproach, honest, loyal, and his word was his bond. He was admired by his family, friends and fellow Air Force officers and enlisted personnel everywhere he worked.
Lt. Col. Funk felt honored he was to serve his country during WWII, Korea, Vietnam and during The Cold War. He was truly a part of the “Greatest Generation.” Because of his skill as a pilot he was routinely selected to train others and command. One of his more memorable appointments was his deployment to Greece in 1956, from his duties as an Air Reserve helicopter pilot at Spangdahlem AB Germany to train new Greek helicopter pilots on the H-19. During his 28 years in the Air Force he flew over 20 different types of light to heavy aircraft including the C-45, C-46, C-47, C-54, T-28 T-29, B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-29.
In 1953 when he reentered the Air Force he chose to retrain to fly helicopters. He flew primarily, until mid-1960, the Sikorsky H-19. While stationed at Little Rock AFB while he transitioned to the UH-1 “Huey” which he flew until his retirement in 1971. During the Vietnam War he flew the UH-1F/P/N model helicopters for missile site support stateside and the UH-1F/P during deployments to Thailand and The Republic of Vietnam. During his Vietnam deployments he flew special operations missions as a lead pilot in the 20th Helo Squadron. He flew 168 hours of combat mission time encountering hostile fire while inserting Green Beret and Navy Seal Forces in “hot zones”.
When Lt. Col. Funk retired from Air Force Service in 1971, he had over 5700 hours flying time as a Command Pilot. His assignment took him all over the world from Oklahoma, California, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida to name a few in the United States then to Germany, Greece, Libya, Thailand and Vietnam. Even with the fast tempo of the military he completed Squadron Officer School in 1961 and his college degree from Alan Hancock College in California in 1964. After his service he continued to work with the government out of the Veteran Affairs Office in Waco, Texas as an Educational and Training Representative for local colleges. He also continued his affiliation with the service becoming a life member of the Military Offices of American Association. He was very proud to be able to serve his country in the Air Force and later with the Veteran Administration.
He will be missed deeply and loved forever by his family. The country’s loss and his family’s loss will be heavens gain and he will watch over us until we join him. The family requests any donations be made to the American Cancer Society.
Burial: Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA
~ GUEST BOOK ~
April 8, 2016As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life’s routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.~Bryan Miller, Dallas, TX
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