Chuck Yeager, the legendary pilot, died on Monday night at the age of 97. Born in 1923 in West Virginia, Yeager, son of a coal miner and gas driller, embodied the American spirit.
From The Federalist:
The magnitude of (Yeager’s) heroics is impossible to summarize succinctly. After enlisting in 1941, Yeager served as a fighter pilot in World War II, during which he was shot down and evaded capture, later persuading Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to allow him to return to combat.
With broken ribs, Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947, radioing right away to say, ‘I’m still wearing my ears, and nothing else fell off, neither.’ He went on to serve in the Vietnam War. According to Department of Veteran’s Affairs, ‘Yeager flew 64 missions during World War II and completed 127 missions during the Vietnam War, while also training bomber pilots.’ He was promoted to brigadier general in 1969.
Yeager was famously depicted by Sam Shepard in the 1973 film adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Right Stuff.’ Wolfe described Yeager as ‘the most righteous of all possessors of the right stuff.’ Calling him a ‘hero in war and peace,’ Ronald Reagan awarded Yeager with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, saying he “served his country with dedication and courage beyond ordinary measure.”