Joseph Bingham Mack, Jr.
Captain, United States Air Force
Harriet Mack Hill
Courtesy of His Classmates, United States Military Academy Class of 1957
Joseph Bingham Mack Jr.
The facets of the prism that is the man - the love and faithfulness seen by his wife, the love and tenderness given to his children, the love and respect evidenced to his parents, the affection and consideration shown to his, sisters, the loyalty given to God and country, his devotion to duty and honor as a man and as an officer, his interest in people and his acceptance of the good and the not-so-good them, the sense of humor which kept him on a even keel and made it possible for him to enjoy many things with many people, his integrity to self and to others - these and other aspects reflect the character and personality of the one we knew and loved as Joe Mack.
The only son among the five children of Reverend and Mrs. Joseph Mack, Joe grew up in a home of Christian love and affection. To the whole town he was "the little boy with the big grin.'' As he grew, he kept the grin and acquired a sense of humor and a fighting spirit.
With a minister father, Joe moved about. After graduating from high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, he enlisted in the Air Force and completed several assignments as an enlisted man. A congressional appointment to the United States Military Academy directed him toward a military career, and upon graduation in 1957, Joe was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. During his stay at West Point, Joe's fighting spirit came to the fore as he won the brigade boxing championship in his weight class; he also enjoyed the challenges of chess, skeet, and the Russian language.
During flight training in Texas, Joe met and later married Gail Keppler. Their three daughters are a continuing memorial.
Joe wore his silver pilot's wings proudly and felt that serving with the 11th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Duluth, Minnesota, was his "first real Air Force assignment." Though his tour there lasted only one short year, Joe took so much pleasure in being a fighter pilot that he said of that duty, "It's better than working for a living!"
Upon his return to the United States from a remote assignment in the Pacific, Joe earned a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Aitr Force Base, Ohio. He put his knowledge to use and his inquisitive mind to work at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he was involved in many test programs and served as project engineer on the B-26K test program.
Joe volunteered to return to the cockpit and welcomed his assignment to a fighter squadron at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri, again flying the F-102. While on a temporary duty alert in Key West, Florida, Joe made his last flight, crashing offshore shortly after take-off during a pre-dawn scramble.
His life will be remembered by many as one lived in fullness. Had he lived longer, Joe could not have won for himself greater respect and affection than he attained in his 33 years.
He leaves behind his wife Gail; three daughters, Patty, Kathy, and Melissa; both parents; four sisters; and many relatives and friends - all of whom will miss the many facets of the one we knew and loved as Joe Mack.
This is the death of Death, to breathe
-Ashley Mack, Sister
Photo Couresy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006
MACK, JOSEPH JR