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Graham Jackson Fling Jr.

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Lt. Col. Graham Jackson Fling, Jr., 90, USAF Retired, Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, died Thursday, November 29 from natural causes at Dock Terrace in Lansdale. He was the husband of Mildred (Birsner) Fling to whom he had been married for more than 68 years. Born November 13, 1922 in Philadelphia, he was the son of the late Graham J. Fling, Sr. and Mable (Thackara) Fling. He grew up in Glenside, graduated from Abington High School, class of 1940, and then attended Drexel Institute of Technology in the chemical engineering program before enlisting in the US Army Air Corps for aviation cadet training in 1942. He became pilot instructor of advanced single engine fighters and twin engine bombers for the duration of WWII. In October, 1945, he separated from the Army Air Corps and went into Army Reserve status. He worked for his father's Glenside Laundry business, then with an uncle as a manufacturer's agent for several US companies, and eventually took a job at Standard Pressed Steel in Glenside. During this time he joined with an active reserve unit started in North Philadelphia as chief instructor pilot on AT-6 and C-45 planes and earned the rank of Captain; in 1947, the reserve unit moved to New Castle, Delaware, where he was assigned as chief instructor pilot flying C-46 and C-47 aircraft. In 1951, he was recalled to active duty for the Korean War where he was a forward air controller in Korea, then had assignments in the Phillippines, Japan, Formosa and Okinawa. From 1953 to 1962 there were duty assignments throughout the US and Canada. In 1963, he graduated from the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Alabama, followed by a four-year tour of duty with Special Air Missions in Weisbaden, Germany, flying sensitive flights behind the iron curtain during the cold war. From 1967 to 1968, Lt. Col. Fling spent 14 months stationed in Korat, Thailand, where he was Chief Pilot of Crew 10 of the 553rd Reconnaissance Squadron and flew 112 combat missions over Vietnam in a Lockheed EC-121R Constellation, a four-engine, "spy-in-the-sky" plane. As a result of occurrences on one of those missions he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Also during this time he became the first man in the 553rd to reach the 10,000 flying-hours point. His final assignment was as the Commander of an RC-121 AWAC detachment in Keflavik, Iceland. He retired in November, 1970, his service to his country having spanned three decades and with his having flown some 24 different types of aircraft while amassing more than 13,000 flying hours. In 1972, Lt. Col. Fling and his wife settled in their new home in Harleysville, PA, where they spent 35 happy years. In 2007 they moved to the Dock Woods Community, where they continued to enjoy their long and cherished marriage. All his life he loved music, early on learning to play the piano and also playing the trombone in his high school band, plus performing in school plays and minstrel shows. His vocal talents were evident in the churches he and his family belonged to as they traveled, not only as a member of the choir but also as a soloist. He and his wife were active members of Wentz's UCC of Lansdale, PA, adding their voices in joyful song to the choir for more than 23 years. He could be seen helping set up for the annual Christmas Bazaar and directing parking for the same. For many years, he lovingly created new, beautifully handcrafted ornaments that became a Bazaar tradition. And for several years he took on the role of Santa Claus for the church's Day Care Center. In addition to his beloved wife, he is survived by his loving daughter, Elizabeth F. Casmas of Lansdale; his brother, Richard T. Fling and his wife Norma of Audubon, PA; his three nephews, William J. Fling, David H. Fling, and Robert M. Fling; several grand nephews and nieces, and just this year two great-grand nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, Graham J. Fling, III; his brother, William J. Fling; and his sister, Edith T. Fling. Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate his life at his memorial service at 11a.m. on Tuesday, December 18, at Wentz's United Church of Christ, 3246 Skippack Pike, Lansdale, PA. Interment will follow in the adjoining church cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in his memory to Wentz's UCC at the address above or to the Living Branches Foundation, Dock Woods/Dock Meadows Sharing Fund, 275 Dock Dr., Lansdale, PA 19446. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.rlwilliamsfuneralhome.com

Published in Montgomery Newspapers on Dec. 13, 2012
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