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Memorial service for retired Brigadier General Chuck Yeager WW II ace and first to break sound barrier

Diana Stancy Correll

Memorial service for retired Brigadier General Chuck Yeager WW II ace and first to break sound barrier
A Celebration of Life memorial service for retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager — best known for being the first to fly faster than the speed of sound — is scheduled for Friday at noon Eastern Time.

Vice President Mike Pence is slated to provide opening remarks at the ceremony, which will be held at the Charleston, West Virginia Coliseum and Convention Center. Among those in attendance will be Gen. David Allvin, vice chief of staff of the Air Force.

Yeager, originally from West Virginia, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 as an 18-year-old and became a crew chief on an AT-11. The following year, he was tapped for pilot training under the flying sergeant program and joined the 363rd Fighter Squadron as a non-commissioned flight officer in 1943, according to his website.

During his service in World War II, he participated in 64 missions and shot down a total of 13 German planes. And despite the fact that he himself was shot down in March 1944, he dodged captivity thanks to the assistance of the French underground and made it back to his unit in England, according to his website.

In 1945, he became a maintenance officer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which led to him becoming a test pilot for the Air Force. While stationed at Muroc Air Base in California — now Edwards Air Force Base — Yeager flew the Bell X-1 rocket plane faster than 660 mph, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier.

“Sure, I was apprehensive,” Yeager recalled in 1968. “When you’re fooling around with something you don’t know much about, there has to be apprehension. But you don’t let that affect your job.”

Yeager didn’t miss out on any action during the Vietnam War. He was tapped to serve as the commander of the 405th Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base in the Philippines and flew a total of 127 combat missions.

Yeager remained in the Air Force until 1975 when he retired. Among his awards are the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart. Likewise, he also received the Collier air trophy in December 1948 for flying faster than the speed of sound, the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1975, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985.

Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse in 1945 and the couple shared four children together: Donald, Michael, Sharon and Susan. Dickhouse died in 1990 due to ovarian cancer.

Yeager got married again in 2003 to Victoria Scott D’Angelo, who announced Yeager’s death on December 7 on his Twitter page. He was 97 years old.

“It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET. An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever.”

Watch the ceremony live at noon Eastern Time here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.