LITTLESTOWN Staff Sergeant Willie Mack Courtney, born October 6, 1925, went home to his Lord and Savior on January 30, 2013. He was 89. SSG Courtney was married to his first wife, Nell Green-Courtney, for 49 years. They had three children, Carol Thompson (Hershel) of Florida, Bobbie Hodges (Bill) of North Carolina, and Joe Courtney of Mississippi. SSG Courtney's second wife, Mrs. Barbara (Smith) Sentz-Courtney, were joined together in matrimony on December 18, 2005. Mrs. Courtney has two children, Paula Degen (Kip) of New Hampshire and Craig Sentz (Michelle) of Indiana. They have a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. SSG Courtney entered the military in 1943 at the age of 16, he lied about his age to serve his country during WWII. He specifically chose the Navy because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During his time in the Navy (1943-1946), he became a parachute rigger and was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Alaska. While in the Navy, SSG Courtney jumped out of a dirigible. He then returned home for a year and decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps, which later changed into the Air Force (1948-1953). He was in the second training class of Pararescue (PJ's). Willie served as a PJ until he injured his shoulder. The Air Force grounded him as a jumper so he went back to the Army where he served and jumped with the 11th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Division until 1965. He retired after 22 years. PJ Courtney was recognized at the last PJ reunion in Long Island, N.Y., as the 2nd oldest living PJ and was given a standing ovation. Little's Funeral Home, Littlestown and chambers funeral home, Washington, D.C., have worked together towards and interment date of July 26, 2013, at 2 p.m. in the burial grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.
Published in Evening Sun on July 18, 2013