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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
William “Bill” Powell Pannell, Colonel, USAF (Retired)August 07, 1934 – October 18, 2015
Col. William “Bill” Powell Pannell (USAF Ret.) died peacefully at his Fairhope, Ala. home Sunday evening, Oct. 18, 2015 while surrounded by loved ones. He was born Aug. 7, 1934 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
After more than 20 years of distinguished military service, Bill retired from the United States Air Force as a full colonel in 1978. During his time in the military, Pannell served as an ROTC instructor at the University of North Carolina, flew missions in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and assisted in the recovery of the USS Mayaguez.
Pannell was a member of the 21st Special Operations Squadron. While serving in Vietnam, Pannell was shot down twice, but escaped uncaptured and unharmed. He participated in the evacuation of Saigon. Pannell also escorted astronaut John Glenn’s capsule around the world.
Prior to serving in the Air Force, Pannell was a paratrooper with the U.S. Army. Among his many medals was the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Pannell graduated from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala., earned a master’s degree at the University of Louisville, Ky. and completed his Ph.D in Education from Auburn University.
After retiring from the Air Force, he began a notable second career in education. He served as director of the off-campus Branch of Troy University in Valdosta, Ga., and later as dean of the Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Ga.
Bill Pannell volunteered in numerous lay ministry roles as a member of the Episcopal Church. In Georgia he twice served as a lay rector for Cursillo retreats. He also reinstituted the Brotherhood of St. Andrew at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Fla.
His volunteer work was not limited to church service, however. Pannell participated in numerous Habitat for Humanity builds, was a 33rd Degree Mason and a Rotarian. Most recently, Pannell was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope.
Bill was an avid golfer, art collector, artist, humanitarian and world traveler, but is best remembered as a loving son, husband and father.
He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Henry Pannell; and mother, Fannie Sue Thomason Pannell, both of Gardendale near Birmingham, Ala.; his brother, Joseph Henry Jr.; and sisters Helen Fromhold and Sue Pannell, all of Birmingham, and sister Jean Daniel of Ocala, Fla.
He is survived by his loving wife of 43 years, Elaine T. Pannell of Fairhope; children, Suzanne Pannell Whiting, of Wake Forest, N.C. (married to Tom), William P. “Bill” Pannell II of Huntsville, AL, (married to Vivian); Lee Pannell of Knoxville, Tenn. (married to Kim), Debbie Hanson of Fairhope, Ala. (married to Dan) and Steve Michels of Minot, N.D. He also had eight grandchildren who will miss him dearly.
The funeral service for Bill Pannell Sr. will be held Saturday, Oct. 24, at 11 a.m., in the chapel of St. James Episcopal Church, 860 N. Section St., Fairhope, AL.
Honorary pallbearers will be sons Bill, Lee and Steve; sons-in-law, Dan Hanson and Tom Whiting; and nephews, Steve Fromhold and Mike Daniel.
Burial will be in the St. James Memorial Garden, with a reception following the service at the St. James Fellowship Hall.
Donations in honor of Bill Pannell may be made to Habitat for Humanity.
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