George Purnell Birdsong Jr.
Colonel, United States Air Force
a contemporary press report:
PLEASANTON, California - Colonel George Purnell Birdsong, Jr. died at his Pleasanton home, in his wife's arms, on the 9th of July, 2004.
Born 12th of October 1919 and raised in Clarksdale Mississippi. Birdsong earned a football scholarship at Southwest Mississippi Junior College. Winning his pilot's wings in April 1942, he was immediately assigned to a B-17 with the 91st bomb group in Bassingbourne, England, and was flying combat missions in the fall of 1942.
As a pilot, he participated in the first daylight raids over Germany and his plane, "The Delta Rebel," was the first to complete 25 missions in the European theatre.
Receiving a regular Army commission, he remained in the Air Force until November 1970. His combined military service was over 32 years. He experienced four wars, flying a combat tour in B-17s 1942-43, in the Eighth Air Force in the European Theatre. He flew B-29s, B-47s B-52s and B-58s during the Korean and Cold Wars.
He was a Wing Commander of the 633rd Special Operations Wing, Pleiku Airbase in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, where he flew A-1 Skyraiders. He wore the wings of a command pilot and was a rated navigator, bombardier and radar observer.
He earned his undergraduate degree from University of Nebraska, Omaha and his MBA from Michigan State in East Lansing. He was not only a warrior but played golf, was a published author and wrote articles for aviation magazines and journals.
His wife, Eileen; his children, George, Marguerite, Bill and Amy; and ten grandchildren survive him. They will remember him as a paragon of courage and character who survived over 245 combat missions including 220 in Vietnam. He loved California but his heart will always be in Dixie.
He will be buried with full military honors
in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
Posted: 4 July 2005