Chuck Yeager

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Chuck Yeager : biography

13 February 1923 –
number=0|type=oak|name=Air Force Distinguished Service ribbon|width=60}} Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
number=1|type=oak|name=Silver Star ribbon|width=60}} Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster (for shooting down five Messerschmitt Bf 109s in one dayYeager and Janos 1985, p. 73.)
number=1|type=oak|name=Legion of Merit ribbon|width=60}} Legion of Merit with bronze oak leaf cluster
number=2|type=oak|name=Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon|width=60}} Distinguished Flying Cross with two bronze oak leaf clusters (for a Messerschmitt Me 262 killYeager and Janos 1985, p. 76. and first to break the sound barrier)
number=0|type=oak|other_device=v|name=Bronze Star ribbon|width=60}} Bronze Star Medal with bronze valor device (for helping rescue a fellow airman from Occupied France)
number=0|type=oak|name=Purple Heart BAR|width=60}} Purple Heart
number=10|type=oak|name=Air Medal ribbon|width=60}} Air Medal with two silver oak leaf clusters
number=0|type=oak|name=Air Force Commendation ribbon|width=60}} Air Force Commendation Medal
number=1|type=oak|ribbon=AF Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png|width=60}} Presidential Unit Citation with bronze oak leaf cluster
number=0|type=oak|name=Outstanding Unit ribbon|width=60}} Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
number=0|type=oak|name=American Defense Service ribbon|width=60}} American Defense Service Medal
number=0|type=service-star|name=American Campaign Medal ribbon|width=60}} American Campaign Medal
number=8|type=service-star|name=European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon|width=60}} European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with silver and three bronze service stars
number=0|type=oak|name=World War II Victory Medal ribbon|width=60}} World War II Victory Medal
number=0|type=oak|ribbon=Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png|width=60}} Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Congressional Silver Medal (1976), for breaking the sound barrier for the first time.Yeager and Janos 1985, pp. 413–414.
  • Collier Trophy and Mackay Trophy, for breaking the sound barrier for the first time.

Post-retirement career

On March 1, 1975, following assignments in Germany and Pakistan, Yeager retired from the Air Force at Norton Air Force Base, although he continued to occasionally fly for the USAF and NASA as a consulting test pilot at Edwards AFB.

Yeager made a cameo appearance in the movie The Right Stuff (1983). He played "Fred," a bartender at "Pancho’s Place", which was most appropriate, as Yeager said, "if all the hours were ever totaled, I reckon I spent more time at her place than in a cockpit over those years."Yeager and Janos 1985, p. 172. His own role in the movie was played by Sam Shepard.

For several years in the 1980s, Yeager was connected to General Motors, serving as the public face of AC Delco, the company’s automotive parts division.Yeager and Janos 1985, p. 418. In 1986, Yeager was invited to drive the Chevrolet Corvette pace car for the 70th running of the Indianapolis 500. In 1988, Yeager was again invited to drive the pace car, this time at the wheel of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. In 1986, President Reagan appointed Yeager to the Rogers Commission that investigated the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The 456th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Retrieved: December 8, 2010.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yeager set a number of light, general aircraft performance records for speed, range, and endurance. Most notable were flights conducted on behalf of Piper Aircraft. On one such flight, Yeager performed an emergency landing as a result of fuel exhaustion. On another, he piloted Piper’s turboprop Cheyenne 400LS to a time-to-height record: FL350 (35,000 feet) in 16 minutes, exceeding the climb performance of a Boeing 737 at gross weight.

Yeager is fully retired from military test flying, after having maintained that status for three decades after his official retirement from the Air Force. On October 14, 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight past Mach 1, he flew a new Glamorous Glennis III, an F-15D Eagle, past Mach 1. The chase plane for the flight was an F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Bob Hoover, a legendary air-show pilot who had been Yeager’s wingman for the first supersonic flight. This was Yeager’s last official flight with the U.S. Air Force. At the end of his speech to the crowd, Yeager concluded, "All that I am … I owe to the Air Force." Later that month, he was the recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for his achievements.

On October 14, 2012 on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, Yeager did it again in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, out of Nellis Air Force Base at the age of 89.Rogers, Keith. Las Vegas Review-Journal, October 12, 2012.

Early life

Yeager was born to farming parents Susie Mae and Albert Hal Yeager in Myra, West Virginia, and graduated from high school in Hamlin, West Virginia. He had two brothers, Roy and Hal, Jr., and two sisters, Doris Ann (killed by Roy with a shotgun while still an infant)Yeager and Janos 1985, p. 6. and Pansy Lee. His first experience with the military was as a teen at the Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana, during the summers of 1939 and 1940. On February 26, 1945, Yeager married Glennis Dickhouse, and the couple had four children. Glennis Yeager died in 1990.

The name "Yeager" () is an Anglicized form of the German name Jäger or Jaeger (German: "hunter"), and so is common among immigrants of that community. He is the uncle of former baseball catcher Steve Yeager.