August 10, 1921 - June 25, 2013
Lieutenant Colonel William Meredith Herndon (Retired) was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia in August of 1921 to Mason Meredith and Myrtle Alice Bullock Herndon. He went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on June 25, 2013. He graduated from high school at 15 then from the University of Richmond at 19 with a degree in biology. Bill loved music. He played piano, trumpet, baritone, French horn and trombone. As a young adult he played piano in a boogie-woogie jazz band. Bill’s first job out of college was as a public school teacher, however this career was short lived, as on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting him to enlist. Bill wanted to enlist in the Army Air Corps because he wanted to fly. His dreams came true when he got a telegram in the mail telling him he was selected for pilot training.
Bill formally enlisted in the Army Air Corps on April 29, 1942, and commenced flight training. He graduated flight school and became a flight instructor at Maxwell Field. As a Second Lieutenant Bill had the privilege of training the Allied French pilots at Turner Field in 1943.
In June 1944, Bill married Christine Hall and they called many different places “home” over the next 69 years. Bill continued flight training and flew many types of planes including the B-25, B-17, and his favorite, the B-29.
About a year after WWII ended, Bill asked for release from active duty, and they moved back to Fredericksburg, Virginia where he worked for the Sylvania Chemical Company as a chemist and then for his father’s wholesale dry goods store, Herndon & Company, Inc. After seven years he was recalled from the reserves and in 1953 returned to active duty, due to the Korean Conflict.
During this time, Bill flew night missions in North Africa, teaming with Special Forces in the Air Resupply Command Squadron. Later, he continued to accrue flight time in a variety of operational support aircraft, jet fighters and trainers, while assigned as an assistant professor of Air Science at Brown University.
In the mid-60’s, he flew the corridor from Wiesbaden to Berlin Tempelhof, collecting electronic intelligence of activities in East Germany. In the late 60’s, Bill spent a year in Vietnam flying support aircraft and later had the honor of participating in Operation Homecoming by counseling POWs returning home from Vietnam. Near the end of his Air Force career, he was awarded the privilege to be on Presidential Flight Support for President Nixon’s trips to Saudi Arabia.
Bill retired in June 1978 after 36 years of active and reserve duty. He was awarded over 30 medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He logged over 11,300 hours flying in 22 different planes. Bill was an exceptional leader and was well respected by those with whom he served, as evidenced by this testimony from one of his friends; “The greatest honor I had with the USAF was to be able to fly with Bill ‘Mister Perfectionism’ Herndon. Bill is the ultimate professional and we all learned and benefitted greatly from following his lead.”
During their retirement in California, Bill and Christine became avid travelers, visiting Africa, Asia, Europe, Russia, Central and South America, the Middle East and all of the United States. They also enjoyed weekly rigorous games of doubles tennis with family and friends. They moved to Texas in 2001 and continued to travel, play tennis, live out their faith and make new friends.
Bill loved his Savior and put his faith into action wherever the Lord led. He modeled Christ-like behavior to his family, in his work ethic, through his ministries and generous support to charities and missions worldwide.
William is survived by Christine, his wife and best friend of 69 years, children Rick (Susan), Steve (Julie), Gail, Keith (Deborah), Mark (Robin), eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (with a fifth on the way).
The memorial service is Friday, July 12 at 11 AM at Stonebriar Community Church, 4801 Legendary Dr., Frisco, TX.
Donations can be made in William Herndon’s memory to:
Wounded Warrior Project www.woundedwarriorproject.org
New Hope Uganda www.newhopeuganda.org
Arrangements are under the direction of ARIA Cremation Service and Funeral Home 19310 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas 75252, 214-306-6700.
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