Maurice H. Udell, (Col., ret.), 80 was called home by his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Monday, August 22, 2011. Maurice accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior as a young man and continued to honor him throughout his life.
Colonel Udell was a retired Commander of Ellington Air National Guard Base and the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, Air Defense, Tactical Air Command, Ellington Field, Houston, Texas. Col. Udell retired with 31 years of military service in the active and reserve forces compiling an impressive record of achievement.
Col. Udell was born in Excelsior Springs, Missouri on 18 May 1931. He was a graduate of Excelsior Springs High School class of 1949. During his high school years, Col. Udell was an "All-State" Varsity Athlete on a football team that was undefeated in 46 games, including two State Championships. He was also an accomplished trombonist and serious student of music. He attended the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and played in symphony orchestras and professional concert bands.
Col. Udell graduated from the University of Missouri at Columbia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1953. During college, Col. Udell was a member of the University's Varsity Football Team and was selected for "All Big 7 Conference" honors as an offensive end. Col. Udell continued his music avocation by playing in professional dance bands and symphony orchestras. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Prior to entering the Air Force, Col. Udell worked as an Assistant Football Coach for Missouri's Freshman Football Team.
Col. Udell attended USAF Pilot Training at Marana Air Force Base, Arizona; Williams Air Force Base, Arizona; Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas; and Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. He attended Squadron Officer's School and completed professional military education courses of the Air Command and Staff College as well as the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Col. Udell graduated from the Air War College in 1976 and from the Air Defense, Tactical Air Command, Interceptor Training Program in 1982. Col. Udell also earned a Masters of Business Administration from Auburn University in 1976.
During his five years at Luke AFB, Col. Udell was a member of the gunnery team and served as instructor, maintenance officer, and test pilot. In 1960, he joined the Missouri Air National Guard, where he became a mission ready photo-reconnaissance pilot. Col. Udell transferred to Houston, Texas in 1967 and joined the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, Texas Air National Guard, at Ellington AFB, and became an operationally ready interceptor pilot. In 1968 he volunteered for combat duty in Southeast Asia, where he served in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand flying the F-102 Interceptor. Col. Udell flew 21 combat sorties over North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
Upon returning to Ellington, AFB, Texas, Col. Udell served as flying training instructor, flight commander, squadron operations officer, and in 1979 was appointed the 111th Squadron Commander. In 1982, Col. Udell transitioned into the F-4C Phantom and assumed the position of group operations officer. In 1983, Maurice Udell was promoted to the rank of Colonel and assumed command of the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group and Ellington AFB.
Col. Udell had over 10,000 hours in 15 types of USAF aircraft to include the F-84; F-100, F-101, F-102, and F-4. His military decorations and awards include the Air Medal, The Presidential Unit Citation, the Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, and the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, the Air Force Reserve Officers Medal, the Texas Meritorious Service Medal, Governor of Texas Individual Citation for Outstanding Performance, Adjutant General's Award with two White Stars, Texas Faithful Service Medal, and Combat Readiness Ribbon with Oak Leaf Cluster. In 1980, Col. Udell was a member of the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group's team at the William Tell -1980 Weapons Meet; flying an F-101F Voodoo with WSO Maj. David S. Miller, together Col. Udell and Major Miller won the prestigious Gen. Price Top Gun Award.
Col. Udell received a number other awards during his military career to include: The Aerospace Defense Command "We Point With Pride" Award, The California Air National Guard Award from Chief of Staff-Air, The Houston Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Award - five times for outstanding service to the community, and the Air Force Association Medal of Merit for Distinguished Service. In 1993, Col. Udell was named the Outstanding Civilian of the Year by the Houston Chapter of the Air Force Association.
Col. Udell was also successful in civilian life. In 1962, Col. Udell started his own concrete pressure pipe manufacturing company in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1964, Col. Udell was selected as the President of the Concrete Pipe Manufacturer's Association of Missouri. In 1966, Col. Udell sold his interests in Udell-Niles and became a pipe consultant to Vulcan Materials Company in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time, Col. Udell built and managed concrete pipe plants in Birmingham, Alabama and Houston, Texas. Col. Udell also founded the Kansas City Judo Institute and earned his first degree black belt under the instruction of Mr. Wey Sing Kim; Korean Champion and third highest ranked belt in the world.
Col. Udell is survived by his wife Oneyda Udell; Angelica Deveny, mother of his three sons; son and daughter in-law Kevin and Cindy Udell; son and daughter in-law Brian and Kristi Udell; Grand Children; Adam and Melissa Udell, Eric and Brittney Udell, Morgan Udell, Garrett Udell, and Samantha Udell; Great Grand Child Abigail Udell, and many other relatives and friends. Col. Udell was preceded in death by his son Marlon Udell, parents Hugh and Iva Udell, and sisters Mary Barbier and Mabel Newkirk.
Funeral Services will be held for Col. Udell Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. in the Chapel at SouthPark Funeral Home, 1310 North Main, Pearland, Texas with Lt. Col. Greg Rako (Ret.) officiating. Interment will be conducted in a private family service at the Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, TX. Honorary pallbearers are the former and present members of the 147th FIG. Words of comfort may be shared with the family at www.southparkfunerals.com.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Aug. 24, 2011