Al Bailey was born in the Black Hills of South Dakota on February 4th, 1917, the second of four children born to William Guy and Edith Bailey. Al passed away peacefully at the age of 102 on November 23rd, 2019, among family and friends. He enjoyed an idyllic childhood in a bustling small town roaming the pine-covered hills and rich rolling farmland around Whitewood South Dakota. Although growing up during the Great depression he said he can’t recall much suffering as they made the most of what they had and recovered their fortunes in the late 30’s as the country began to gear up for World War II.
After high school, he attended one year of college and then worked in the auto parts business until volunteering for the Army Air Corps pilot training program where he was accepted in the fall of 1941, attending flight school in Texas and graduating in May 1942 as a Second Lieutenant pilot. He was then assigned to Colorado Springs to receive training in the single seat twin-engine P-38 Lighting fighter aircraft modified for aerial photography. After several harrowing months, the Solomon Islands were secured and the Allies continued island hopping. Replacement pilots arrived and Al was rotated back to the states having completed fifty missions.
He was promoted to Captain and stationed in Oklahoma City at Will Rogers Field as a flight instructor checking out new pilots in the P-38 and aerial photography. It was there that he met and married Joan Haskin, the mother of his two children, William D. Bailey and LeAnn Bailey. In the summer of 1945 he joined a unit stationed in the China-Burma-India theater where he completed another 50 missions and was preparing to take his unit to China to assist in the Japanese invasion when the war ended and he returned home to civilian life.
After purchasing and operating a hardware store in Richland, Utah for a couple of years he moved to Oregon. In January 1951 he was recalled to serve during the Korean War and assigned to units in California for the protection of the west coast against possible Russian attacks. After the war he returned to Portland and his job as a plumbing supply salesman for Crane Company. In 1956 he and a partner acquired Erickson Supply Co. wholesale plumbing company that he operated until selling it to his employees in 1985.
He was divorced from his first wife in 1965 and married Pauline J. Turner in 1969. Al was active all through his life and even well into his nineties. He enjoyed snow skiing, running and walking in the Portland to Coast Walk and especially competitive dragon boat racing with his fellow paddlers on the Golden Dragons team.
He is survived by his children, stepdaughter Pam Emick, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Military Honors at Willamette National Cemetery on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 1:30 P.M. Service following at 2:30 P.M. at Mt. tabor Methodist Church 6161 S.E. Stark Street, Portland, OR 97215.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be forwarded to The Veterans of Foreign Wars, P.O. Box 8958, Topeka, KS 66608. 833-839-4483
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