Coal Valley, Illinois
Services for Major General Burl W. McLaughlin, USAF (Ret?d), 87, of Coal Valley, Illinois, are 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, 2007, in Trimble Funeral and Cremation Center, Moline, with The Reverend Charles Cunningham officiating. Burial is in National Cemetery on the Rock Island Arsenal, where Moline American Legion Post #246 will present military honors. Visitation is 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made in his name to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army for the Homeless, or the Heifer Project.
Burl William McLaughlin was born February 26, 1920, in Maude, Oklahoma, the son of William Alden and Nellie (Jackson) McLaughlin. He graduated from Connors State Agricultural College in Oklahoma, in 1940.
He began his military career in May, 1941, with a commission as second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and his pilot wings. He served in various commands until the end of the war in April, 1946, when he left active duty and was a commercial pilot for TWA in New York and United Airlines at Denver, Colorado, where he met airline stewardess Helen Elizabeth (Betty) Bailey. The couple married on July 9, 1947, in Denver.
Following return to active military duty in August 1947, General McLaughlin served in various commands. In September 1953 he went overseas to Tokyo, Japan, where he became deputy director of operations for SAC's "X-RAY" headquarters. In March 1955 he returned to the United States to become commander of the 19th Bombardment Squadron at March Air Force Base and in April 1956 he assumed duties as chief, Operations Division, Directorate of Operations, Fifteenth Air Force. He entered the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in August 1957 and graduated in June 1958.
He was then assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, and in July 1959 was assigned as chief of the Colonels Group. General McLaughlin graduated from the National War College in Washington, D.C., in June 1962. He next assumed command of the 64th Troop Carrier Wing (Tactical Air Command), the 516th Troop Carrier Wing and the 838th Air Division (TAC).
In March 1966, he became commander of the 322nd Air Division (Military Airlift Command), single manager of airlift in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia as far east as Calcutta, India. He was assigned as commander, 834th Air Division at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in November 1967. In Vietnam he directed the largest, sustained airlift in history.
General McLaughlin assumed duties as vice commander, Fifteenth Air Force, in September 1969.
He retired from active duty as a major general and a senior command pilot in 1971. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm.
After his retirement, he was a vice president of sales and service for the Eastern region of Eastern Airlines for nine years, and served as president of the Wings Club, a prestigious club for distinguished aviators. He retired in 1985 as president and CEO of Mississippi Valley Airlines after five years.
After his retirement, General McLaughlin became a board member of Bank One. He also did public relations work for the Quad-City Airport Authority. For five years, he served as a bailiff for the Rock Island and East Moline County Courts. In the community, he was a member of the board of the Quad Cities Air Show and the board at the University of Dubuque, and was a member of Beulah Presbyterian Church, Orion. He was an avid golfer, and a member of Pinnacle Country Club. He also pursued a life¬long interest in aviation.
General McLaughlin is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty; four children, Becky Hobart and her husband David of Marston?s Mills, Massachusetts, Kathleen McLaughlin of Coal Valley, Patricia McLaughlin, Ph.D., of Rock Island, Illinois; and William McLaughlin of Washington, D.C.; a grandson Brent Eberhart; a great-grandson Zachary Eberhart; and two step-grandchildren, Arron and Jason Hobart. He was preceded in death by brothers, Roland and Lloyd McLaughlin.
Burl?s family invites friends to express condolences or light a candle in his memory at www.TrimbleFuneralHomes.com.