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Charles McClarren


1930 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Charles McClarren Obituary
McClarren, Charles William



Charles "Chuck" William McClarren, Colonel, USAF retired, passed away on Sunday, July 30, after a battle with Alzheimer's. He was born on July 26, 1930, in Spencer, Indiana. He was the beloved husband of Joyce Buckley McClarren who preceded him in death in late 2016.

Charles attended Purdue University on academic scholarship until 1950 when he enlisted in the Air Force. In 1952, he was accepted into Aviation Cadets and was awarded the Jet Flying Award when he graduated from Officer and Pilot Training and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and pilot. In 1954, he was assigned as a primary duty fighter pilot at England AFB in Louisiana where he was deployed to locations all over the world. While deployed to Aviano Air Base in Trieste, Italy, he met his future wife, Joyce. They were married on August 5, 1956. Together they raised four children while being assigned to numerous bases all over the world. In 1958, Charles was chosen to attend the USAF Fighter Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis AFB, NV (the "Top Gun" school in its day) where he achieved "Top Gun" honors and was invited to be an instructor at the school. In 1961, he transferred to Japan as a flight commander in the 80th TFS. In 1963, he was assigned as the Chief of the Wing Tactical Evaluation Team to supervise the wing's conversion to the F105 Thunderchief Fighter Bomber. Through his leadership efforts, he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. After the Gulf of Tonkin incidents in 1964, on a second mission over Laos, Charles was escorting an RF-101 when it was shot down near the North Vietnam border. He remained over the bailout area while making suppressive attacks on the enemy and also organizing a successful rescue operation. For his actions that day, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Charles flew over 100 combat missions in Vietnam. In late 1966, he headed an Air Force team to evaluate the A-7 at NAS in Lemoore, CA, and facilitated making the aircraft carrier qualified and combat ready. This resulted in an eight-month combat cruise on the USS Ranger in the Gulf of Tonkin where Charles completed over 120 carrier landings. Charles was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1970 and 14 months later to Colonel. In 1971, he was assigned to the Pentagon and attended the Air War College in AL in 1973. Col. McClarren's next assignment was as Deputy Wing Commander of the famous Flying Tigers at England AFB in LA. He became Wing Commander after six months. In later years, Col. McClarren was assigned to NATO Command in Europe and as a Liaison Officer for the RAF Strike Command in High Wycombe, England. Col. McClarren retired in 1983 after 33 years of service. Charles received a number of awards which include three Legions of Merit, 9 Air Medals, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, 3 Navy Commendation medals with combat V's, the AF Good Conduct medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster. His plaque from the RF-101 Squadron which thanks him for saving their pilot's life ends with "May God fly with you always." Notwithstanding his successful military career, Charles's greatest achievement was his role as a loving, devoted husband and father.

He is predeceased by two sisters, Dixie Belle McClarren and Carol Carr as well as a brother, Byron McClarren. He is survived by his sons, Bradford McClarren and his wife, Leslie of Jupiter, FL, Shaun McClarren and his wife, Marcia of Rio Rancho, NM; daughters, Davis McClarren of Lincoln, RI, and Tracey McClarren Beck and her husband, Dave of Exeter, RI; grandchildren, Elizabeth (Ian) Gronewold, Patricia (Michael) Christensen, Monroe McClarren, Chandler Hodder, Emily and Morgan Beck; five great-grandchildren; niece, Andrea Lucia; and nephews, Scott (Judy) Cross and Jeffrey Cross. The McClarren family would like to extend its deepest gratitude and appreciation to the staff of Ambercare Hospice as well as Willow Wood Memory Care.

A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, August 5, 2017, 2:00 p.m. at FRENCH â€" Lomas. Interment will be at Rhode Island Veteran's Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island, with full military honors at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations be made to the , 9500 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111. Please visit our online guestbook for Charles at

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Published in Albuquerque Journal from Aug. 3 to Aug. 4, 2017
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