Lewis I. Vance passed away February 21, 2013. He was a Retired Lieutenant Colonel with the United States Air Force. Lewis was born on March 16, 1921, in West Virginia to Lewis Edward and Garnet W. (McKinney) Vance. After completing high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940. He was detailed to a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp as a guard. He also worked off-duty as a janitor and used the funds to pay for college courses which began a long-term pursuit of education that eventually led to a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska. His enthusiasm for education had a far-reaching impact on the lives of others. He was selected for the Aviation Cadet program and underwent flight training at Santa Ana, California, and other bases in the state. Following flight training, he was assigned as the 22-year-old aircraft commander of a bomber that ended up in England. Once there he joined the 67th Squadron of the 44th Bombardment Group [Heavy] in 1943. He was proud to be a part of the 44th and its multiple claims to fame. His crew made it to their eleventh mission before they were shot down on May 12, 1944, injuring him and killing his bombardier. The crew was captured and interned in a POW camp at Sagan, Germany until the war's end, just a few days short of a year in captivity. After World War II, he remained as a pilot in the Army Air Corps and its successor, the US Air Force. He was reassigned as an adjutant to an air police squadron, the 7504th (later redesignated as the 3909th). He was soon given the responsibility of being commander of the large squadron, even though he was still a captain. One of his great loves was flying. He piloted the B-17, B-24, B-25, B-26, and the RC-121. After he retired from the Air Force, he enjoyed a second career in real estate, working for Faith Realty. He looked back with happy memories, the opportunity he had to lead troops in an air police squadron and to make a difference in the lives of those he led. Those who were there agree that in the eighteen months he spent with the 3909 Air Police Squadron, Lewis Vance created a cohesive military organization from a motley collection of young men. He is survived by his sons, Jan Bartram and Lewis Vance. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 25, 2013 at the Shrine of Remembrance "America the Beautiful" Chapel. Online Condolences: ShrineOfRemembrance.com
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Published in The Gazette on Mar. 22, 2013