CHARLES EDWARD MCKENNA, age 82 of St. Augustine, Fla., passed away on July 18, 2014, after an extended battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Myrtle Ruth McKenna, his daughter, Lisa Schultz, two sons, Bill and Mike McKenna, grandchildren, Laurie Burney, Amie Marmolejo, Sarah Johnson, Jessica Schultz, Michael Schultz, Andrew McKenna and Matthew McKenna, and two great-grandchildren Blake Burney and Valerie Marmolejo.
Funeral services will be at Craig Funeral Home, St. Augustine, Fla., at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, 2014. The family will receive friends at the funeral home 11:30 a.m. Wednesday until time of services. Graveside services will be at 2:30 p.m. Jacksonville National Cemetery.
Charles was born Sept. 5, 1931, in Chattanooga, Tenn., and attended McCallie School before moving to St. Petersburg, Fla., where he graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy. He attended one year at University of North Carolina before transferring to the University of Florida where he graduated in 1954. He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. After graduation from University of Florida, Charles joined the U.S. Navy and completed basic flight training in 1956 in Pensacola, Fla., where he met and married Myrtle Ruth Mulkey of Andalusia Ala.
During 11 years of active service with the Navy, Charles flew a variety of high-performance fighter-type jets including the F9F-8 Cougar, the F4D Skyray "Ford", and RA5C Vigilante. He was a member of Squadron 13 at Naval Air Station Cecil Field (Jacksonville, Fla.), Fighter Squadron 101 (Key West, Fla.), and Reconnaissance Attack Squadron One (Sanford, Fla.). His service included multiple extended deployments including time aboard the Essex CVA-9 in the Mediterranean and Independence CVA-62 in Vietnam. While stationed in Key West during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Charles served at Flag Lieutenant and Aide to the Joint Commander Key West Forces at the Little White House in Key West. Two years later, he flew the first transpacific flight of the Navy"s then new Mach 2, RA5C Vigilante and landed it aboard the USS Ranger in the South China Sea. In 1965, he completed a full tour of combat missions over North Vietnam in the Vigilante while onboard the USS Independence flying the most missions of anyone in his squadron and earning a special decoration for heroism in Vietnam combat. He resigned his commission in 1965 with the rank of Lt. Commander having flown more than 2700 hours and 275 carrier landing, a third of which were night landings.
In 1965, Charles joined Eastern Airlines as a pilot. During his 25-year career with Eastern, he flew nearly 15,000 hours on a variety of aircraft including time as Captain of the A-300, B-757, B-727, and DC-9.He flew extensively in the US and throughout South America. He retired from Eastern in 1991 spending the past 14 years in St. Augustine, Fla.
Charles was also a 32nd degree Freemason of the Masonic Lodge No. 258 of Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Fla.
Craig Funeral Home Crematory Memorial Park is in charge of the arrangements.