|Colonel George D. Rawlings
Colonel George Dewey Rawlings, USAF, Retired, husband of Joan Hughes
Rawlings, and long time San Antonio resident, passed away on Sunday, January
16, 2011. He was born in Faxon, Oklahoma on March 2, 1922, the oldest
child of George Dewey Rawlings and Ruby Inez Perry. George was
preceded in death by his
Raised in Tuttle, Oklahoma, he was a member of the Methodist faith. He graduated from Tuttle High School in 1940 and attended the University of Oklahoma. With the outbreak of WWII, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He completed B-17 bombardier training and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in August 1942. In October, Joan took leave of absence from Oklahoma College for Women and followed George to Rapid City Army Air Base where they were the first couple married in the newly constructed base chapel. As part of the new 96th Bomb Group, George and his crew continued intensive training in Pocatello, Idaho and Pyote, Texas. Joan and other wives followed the group across the country, establishing living quarters in off-the-map towns to be able to see their husbands on rare days off. This ended when the group took delivery of new B-17s in Kansas and deployed to England in April 1943. Flying from RAF Grafton Underwood, George earned the dubious honor of being aboard the first two 96th Bomb Group aircraft to be shot down. On May 13th, during the group's first combat mission, his aircraft was accidently damaged by its own waist gunner and rendered unable to land. After parachuting the enlisted crew to safety over the base, the officers took the plane over the North Sea and managed to safely dispose of the bomb load. George parachuted to safety and landed on the beach near the town of King's Lynn. The pilot, Captain Derrol W. Rogers, did not survive. Four days later, George was assigned to fill in on another aircrew on a bombing mission to Lorient, France. The B-17, named "Boot Hill", was crippled by German flak and shot down by Luftwaffe fighters. Once more parachuting to safety, he was captured by German troops and spent the remainder of the war imprisoned at Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Lower Silesia. In January 1945, the POWs were forced to undertake a winter march to flee advancing Russian forces and eventually arrived at Stalag VIIA in Moosburg, Bavaria. On April 29, 1945, General George Patton rode a tank into the compound as the POWs were liberated by the 14th Armor Division. During George's captivity, Joan returned to college and graduated from OCW in May 1945, just in time to be reunited with her returning husband. After the war, George continued his Air Force service and attended pilot training at San Angelo, TX.
Through the remainder of his 30-year Air Force career, he flew combat missions in Korea and Vietnam and commanded the 75th Air Transport Squadron, 458th Tactical Airlift Squadron, RAF Chelveston and RAF Alconbury. He retired in 1972 after serving three years as Inspector General, Kelly AFB. Military awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and POW Medal.
George was active in local Republican politics and served for 13 years as a Bexar County Election Judge; 5 years as Republican Precinct 3015 Judge; President of the Bexar County Republican Men's Club, delegate to 5 State Conventions and alternate delegate to the 1988 National Convention. George was a life member of the San Antonio Optimist Club, Volunteer Chairman for Christmas Tree Sales, and was Optimist of the Year in 1975-76. He gave much of his time to supporting Boysville and was President, Boysville Board of Directors; Boysville Archangel 1984, Founder of Boysville 4-H Club, Chairman Building and Development for new Boysville Campus 1983, and Boysville Trustee for Life. George enjoyed golf and served as Chairman of Boysville Golf Tournament, 12 years, the American Cancer Society Golf Tournament, 5 years and was a member of the Kelly Retired Golf Association, 35 years. George was an avid gardener - growing flowers and vegetable crops, that he enjoying sharing with his friends and neighbors. He also loved fishing in the Gulf with his son, Mike and daughter, Sonya. Colonel Rawlings was a Life Member of MOAA and Alamo Chapter MOAA, member of Stinson Flight Order of Daedalians and was twice awarded Caterpillar Club membership for successfully parachuting from a disabled aircraft. George was President of the San Antonio Knife and Fork Dinner Club in 1980.
George is survived by his wife of 68 years, Joan; three sons, Dr. Dennis (Kathryn) Rawlings of Sand Springs, OK, CAPT David (Genie) Rawlings, USN, Ret. of Bluffton, SC and Michael (Sonya) of Houston; four grandchildren, Jennifer Clark, Amy Rawlings, Erin Rawlings, and Michael Rawlings, along with many nieces and nephews, who will always love and remember him as our hero. Burial and graveside services was at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery at Monday, January 24, 2011 at 2:30PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials to honor the life of George may be sent to Boysville, Inc., PO Box 369, Converse, TX, 78109 or to the charity of your choice.