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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Ernest (Ernie) Lewis MacQuarrie, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)June 13, 1956 – January 25, 2018
Ernest (Ernie) Lewis MacQuarrie passed away on January 25, 2018. He was 92 years old. Ernie joined the Army Air Corp at age 17 in 1943. He began his career as a radio operator and belly gunner on a B-24J in the South Pacific flying out of the island Ie Shima with the 403rd bomb squadron.
After World War II, Ernie joined the Air Force in 1949 where he earned his wings and began training as a helicopter pilot. He was then assigned to the 3rd Air Rescue Squadron in the Korean conflict. During his time in the Korean conflict he flew an H-5 helicopter in many rescue missions from Mobil Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH units).
After the Korean War Ernie had various assignments throughout the US and Guam, performing Air Force Search and Rescue efforts. In 1966 Ernie was assigned to the Pentagon in support of the Titan Missile Program.
In 1969 Ernie was sent to Udorn Thailand with the 20th Special Operations Squadron where his squadron (“The Pony Express”) inserted and extracted Laotian troops in the fight to drive out the communist Pathet Lao.
Ernie’s final assignment with the Air Force was in the former Panama Canal Zone where he commanded the 24th Special Operations Squadron. Ernie retired from the Air Force in 1975.After the Air Force, Ernie continued to fly as a flight instructor, production test pilot with Hughes Helicopters and as a corporate pilot. When Ernie was 89 years old he flew his son’s Grumman Cheetah across the United States.
Ernie suffered a stroke as he was returning from a cruise around Cape Horn and passed away shortly after. Ernie is survived by his son and two grandchildren.
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