Colonel Bud Perna, of Browntown, VA, died Friday, September 21, 2012. He was 94.
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He was born in Jersey City, NJ, son of Anthony and Grace Hamilton Perna and grew up on Long Island. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Syracuse University. He joined the Army Air Corps, and as a flight-cadet attended Randolph Air Force Flying School in San Antonio, TX; in December of l940, he received his wings, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He went on to have a long and an illustrious career in the Air Force.
During WWII, he was a principal heavy bomber flight school commander, recognized as an expert in charge of four engine planes. He earned one of what would be two "Legion of Merit" Awards for his activity during the war in "Leadership-Pilot Training." Following the War, he was assigned to the 509th Composite Bomb Wing, and was Deputy of the "Bikini Operations Crossroads."
From 1948-51, he was sent to England to assist in the development of an Allied Defense Force against the Soviet threat and had a leadership role in the development of logistics for the Berlin Air Lift.
In 1952, he was promoted to full Colonel and was assigned to the Pentagon, becoming Chief of Live Training Devices, introducing the flight simulator program for the Air Force.
By 1955, the Air Force had created an elite Strategic Air Command (SAC) to combat the Soviet threat. Colonel Perna became one of the first SAC Wing Commanders in that effort serving on Air Force bases in Texas.
During the first half of the 1960s, he served in Paris as a senior representative for SAC at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe and became the military representative to the Secretary General of NATO. Thereafter, he returned to the Pentagon as the NATO Desk Officer, preparing NATO plans and policies for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, and ultimately the President's Office. While serving at this post, Colonel Perna received his Masters Degree in Political Science at George Washington University in D.C.
From 1965-69, he was the Defense and Air Attache assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Israel. His last assignment was to tour Army and Air Force Command Headquarters throughout the U.S. and discuss the military situation in the Middle East.
In 1969, he was awarded the Legion of Merit a second time for "Exceptionally Meritorious Conduct in the Performance of Outstanding Service." In 1970, he was honored at a retirement ceremony at the Pentagon.
Colonel Perna was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Silliman Perna. They were high school sweethearts, and shared a remarkable life together for 55 years.
He is survived by his children and their families: his son and his wife, Tony and Helen Perna, and his daughters and their husbands, Ellen (Perna) and Bob Smith, Dee Dee (Perna) and Paul Phillips, Christine (Perna) and Bernie Vishneski. He is also survived by eight grand- children, two step-grand-children and fifteen great-grandchildren.
For the past 47 years, Col. Perna has lived in Browntown, Virginia. He enjoyed living in the Shenandoah Valley and the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and loved hunting, fishing in his trout ponds, flying, and golf. His greatest passion was golf and he played daily. He enjoyed the Browntown community, and actively participated in events and programs the community sponsored, and in particular, enjoyed being the honorary Grand Marshal of the July 4th parade. Betty and Bud Perna spent many winters in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Col Perna was a consummate host and loved entertaining family and friends. The "Colonel", as he liked being called, lived at Hidden Springs Senior Living and Loving Arms Assisted Living for the last 4 years. Both offered him beautiful views of the mountains he loved, and both facilities were a home away from home for him.
Funeral services will be Saturday, October 6, 2012, at the Calvary Episcopal Church, 132 N. Royal Avenue, Front Royal at 10:00 a.m.
There are no calling hours. Funeral arrangements are by the Maddox Funeral Home, Front Royal.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Calvary Episcopal Church, Project Hope, 225 Carter Hall, Millwood, VA, or Micha, Society for the Education of Deaf Children, 50 Zahel Street, Box 9096, 31090 Haifa, Israel, or a
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Maddox Funeral Home
105 West Main Street
Front Royal, VA 22630
Published in Northern Virginia Daily from Oct. 1 to Oct. 2, 2012