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The Last Sortie

[Photo] Paul J. Schad, 777th.

Paul J. Schad, 777th

21 June 2003


   Paul Joseph Schad was born on 4 February 1916. He died on 21 June 2003. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, World War II Veteran, Air Force Lt. Colonel, Retired, and lifetime member of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. Paul was preceded in death by his father, Joseph W. Schad; mother, Cora Lee Bishoff Schad; wife, Dorothy Jane Key Schad; sister, Beatrice Schad; brother, Richard (Dick) Schad and son, Paul Schad, Junior. He is survived by his son Tom (Pam) Schad and grandsons Paul and Jason, of Gainesville, Texas; sisters, Dorothy Mae Whitaker, Eleanor Felderhoff, and Mary Jo Naughton.
   He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golf. Paul was a long time member of Leeper Lake.
   Paul enlisted in the United States Army in March 1942. He was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program and graduated from pilot training in July of 1943. Ultimately, he was assigned to the 464 Bomb Group, 777th Squadron in Pantanella, Italy.
   As a B-24 aircraft commander he flew fifty combat missions before returning to the United States .
   After the war he remained in the reserves and was recalled to active duty during the Korean Conflict. Paul remained in the Air Force, serving as a pilot, finance officer, aircraft maintenance officer and eventually retiring as a Squadron Commander.
   He was a Command Pilot with over 5,000 hours flying time. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation with one cluster and others.

EULOGY
(The eulogy was delivered by Jim Harper on 23 June 2003, at the funeral Mass at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Gainesville, Texas.)
   "Tom and his family have given me the honor of saying a few words about Lt. Colonel Paul Schad. Does that reference to Paul as Col. Schad give you an idea that I was in the military and also raised in a military family before that?"
   "I’m afraid that some of this eulogy will be in pilot 'ese' because the man I knew was an extraordinary pilot, an officer and a gentleman. Tom, also a pilot and career Air Force officer, will be available for translations after the eulogy."
   "From the moment I met Col. Schad...some 20 plus years ago...I have referred to the gentleman as Col. Schad - not 'Mister Schad.' I knew the minute I met him that he was a kindred spirit and the epitome of 'The Air Force Officer.' "
   "Look at his military service and his accomplishments and you will see a man who was dedicated to his country. During WWII he flew 50 combat missions. Can you imagine the fortitude it took to climb into an airplane – taking off grossly overweight because of bomb and fuel loads, climbing to altitudes where the outside air temperature is registered in minus degrees, relying on some 20 year old navigator to get you to the target and, then, accurately dropping bombs on the objective? Sounds difficult to say the least! But to make it even more difficult...maybe even insane...there are enemy fighters buzzing around shooting at you and flak exploding all over the sky trying to kill you - and Col. Schad (then only a Lieutenant) did this several times per week..."
   "Thank God...the war ended and Col. Schad returned to the U.S. and in a few years found himself back in uniform, answering the call to rejoin the Air Force. After the Korean War we did not have any major engagements but we fought the Cold War...and Col. Schad was back in it again - this time flying tanker aircraft that held thousands of gallons of aviation fuel. No shooting at this time, only difficult weather and precise flying involved. On several occasions he risked his life, flying in difficult conditions to assure that other aircraft had fuel and could reach safety."
   "I hope I’m not being melodramatic, it’s just that I know what it was like flying in those days. Pilots were pilots. No negative statements about today’s military pilots...they are great."
   "But back when Col. Schad was tooling around the skies…old pilots call these 'the brown shoe days,' pilots flew their airplanes. They had courage... They had intelligence... They were leaders. They flew without the aid of satellites giving them exact fixes on where they were. They flew needle, ball and airspeed. That is a tough way to fly in combat."
   "Col. Schad was also a complete man. He was, as I mentioned, a warrior and a pilot. He was also a man who loved his family and felt comfortable with his faith. That is a thumbnail sketch of the man I knew and I feel a little better telling you about it."
   "I lost a friend a couple of days ago...I made a thousand memories all the days I knew him. I am proud to have known him."
   "Tom has asked me to read a poem he selected for today. The author is unknown...but the story is very real. Flying in the military is difficult, rewarding and challenging. For those of you who are literary scholars, you will note that military pilots have been known to take a sip of spirits every now and then to celebrate their escapades."

Aviators' Heaven
       I hope there’s a place way up in the sky,
       Where old flyers can go on the day that they die.

       A place where a guy can buy a cold beer,
       For a friend and a comrade, whose memory is dear.

       Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, full of smoke,
       Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke.

       The kind of a place where a lady could go,
       And feel safe and protected by the men she would know.

       There must be a place where old flyers go,
       When their flying is finished, and their airspeed gets low.

       Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young,
       And songs about flying and dying are sung.

       Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before,
       And they'd call out your name as you came through the door.

       Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad,
       And relate to others, "He was quite a good lad."

       And then through the mist, you'd spot an old guy,
       You had not seen in years, though he taught you to fly.

       He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear,
       And say, "Welcome, my son, I'm pleased that you're here."

       "For this is the place where the true flyers come,
       When their journey is over, and their war has been won."

       "They've come here at last to be safe and alone,
       From the government clerk and the management clone"

       "Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise,
       Where all hours are happy, and they're all good ole boys."

       "You can relax with a cold one, maybe deal from a deck,
       This is Heaven, my son...you've passed your last check."

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