Military News

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Retired Col. Earl Young, 18th AF pioneer, passes away at 102

by Master Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
18th Air Force Public Affairs


12/8/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Retired Air Force Col. Earl B. Young, 18th Air Force's first commander, passed away Dec. 5 at the age of 102.

Young served as the 18th Air Force commander when the Numbered Air Force first activated in 1951.

"It is a sad day for the 18th Air Force family," said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, 18th AF commander. "Col. Young was not only a part of our history, he was a part of our family. He wrote the book on 18th Air Force, laid the foundation for who and what we are, and he will be missed."

Born in Casper, Wyoming, in 1913, Young joined the U.S. Army in 1936 at the age of 23. He flew combat missions over Africa, Italy and Corsica during World War II.  Young retired from the Air Force in 1962 after 26 years of military service. Among many other distinctive awards, Young earned the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Air Medal. He was inducted into the Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame in 2014, and a bust of Young stands in the Scott AFB Walk of Fame among other air mobility heroes.

He was instrumental in establishing the organization charged with providing airlift support to the nation, and was also responsible for consolidating airlift resources under one organization following the establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947. He headed the Team that combined the Air Force and Navy air transportation and was credited for naming the organization the Military Air Transport Service.  On March 28, 1951, 18th Air Force was established, at which time Young became the first commander.

After his retirement Young remained an inspiring figure for 18th Air Force and, when able, attended special ceremonies for the command. Most recently, he cut the ribbon on the newly renovated 18th AF headquarters building on Scott AFB in July. The Earl Young Conference Room in that headquarters is named in his honor.

Young was preceded in death by his wife Virginia "Jerry" Young.  He is survived by Ray Young of Rome, Georgia, Earl Young Jr. of Colorado, Robert and Lora Young of Rome, Richard and Debbie Young of Virginia, Lynne Snead of California and Shannon Young of Arizona, 11 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

Reactions from former 18th Air Force commanders

"In remembering Colonel Young, I truly believe that today we stand on the shoulders of this giant of our air mobility community.  He brought his experience and his skill as a combat pilot, commander of troops and consummate staff officer to bear to help create the blueprint for future air mobility operations.  Indeed, his work has left an indelible mark on the Air Force and on the Department of Defense."  -  Gen. Darren McDew, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command. 18th Air Force commander from 2012-2014

"Col. Earl Young was a mobility icon. As the first 18AF commander, he laid the foundation for everything we do today here at AMC. We lost a piece of our history with his passing. However, I know his legacy will live on in the generations of Mobility Airmen who follow in his footsteps. Our hearts go out to his family, as well as all of those whose lives he has touched." - Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Commander, Air Mobility Command. 18th Air Force commander from 2014-2015

"When reactivating 18 AF, we went online to find out about our heritage and were blessed to find Col. (R) Earl & Jerry Young living in Utah. Then age 90, he was able to provide unique insight into the formation of MATS and 18 AF.  Throughout the last 12 years, Earl was an incredible friend, mentor, traveling partner, and part of our family!  Sue and I will miss the weekly Facetime sessions/phone calls with regular history lessons about our command and the Air Force. His legacy and spirit live on in every member of the 18AF. As he told us often -- he was so very proud to be among our ranks!" - Retired Lt. Gen. William Welser III, 18th Air Force commander from 2003-2005

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