Joseph Harry Turner was born in Smackover, AR July 18, 1925, to Claude H. and Florence L. May. He passed away June 10, 2015.
He attended elementary and high school in Vivian, LA where he was active in band and sports. Upon graduation he immediately entered Louisiana Tech University at Ruston, LA. August of 1943 he was drafted into the Army and later transferred to the US Air Corps, entering the Aviation Cadet Pilot training program, getting his wings and commission on August 4, 1945. He spent the next twenty-six years as a fighter pilot at various locations in the US and overseas. This included exchange duty with the US Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While with the Navy he qualified as a carrier pilot and when with the RAAF he completed the Australian Army Paratroop Training Course, earning the coveted "Jump Wings". A Command Pilot, he flew over 7000 hours in military aircraft in nine different prop driven aircraft and fourteen different models of jets. This included more than 400 combat sorties in Korea and two tours in Vietnam, totaling 700 plus hours of combat. He said he was shot up many times but never shot down. After retiring from the Air Force in 1971 as a Lieutenant Colonel, he continued flying until 1985, logging another 4000 plus hours in sixteen different aircraft as Flight Instructor and Air Taxi Pilot. During his military service he received numerous decorations, medals, citations, and campaign ribbons such as the Distinguished Flying cross with two clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with fifteen clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Citation. Also while on active duty he attended numerous night school classes to reach eligibility for six months full time attendance to a university under the "Bootstrap Program". He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in June 1961.
On December 2, 1945 ,he married Tommy L. Ward in Casa Grande, AZ. She accompanied him on most assignments in the US, Okinawa and Australia. They had a son, Joseph H. Jr., born in Denver, CO, a daughter, Jann, while in Okinawa, and a daughter Jeri, in Phoenix, AZ. (Typical military family!)
He was a life member of the Masonic Lodge, Air Force Association, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of American, Order of Daedalians, DFC Society and held membership in the F-86 Pilots Association and the F-100 Super Sabre Society. He enjoyed fishing, golf, and traveling in an RV with his wife. Their travels took them through the lower forty-eight states, four trips to Alaska, all Provinces of Canada and twenty-five states of Mexico in five travel trailers and tree motor-homes.
His parents and stepfather, W.F. Turner preceded him in death.
He is survived by his son, Joseph Jr. of Tucson; a daughter, Jann Allen (Tyler) of Canyon, TX; a daughter, Jeri Putman (James) of Wolfforth, TX; four grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
Family will be at the funeral home for visitation from 4:00pm to 8:00pm Monday, June 15, 2015.
Burial will be at the National Cemetery, Santa Fe, NM, along with his beloved wife at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to Cancer research or your favorite charity
Arrangements have been entrusted to Muffley Funeral Home & High Plains Crematory www.muffleyfuneralhome.com