George W. Shoenfelt

"God Is My Co-Pilot"

"Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grade
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew,
And while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

Poem from Col. Robert L. Scott's
bestseller "God Is My Co-Pilot"

November 12, 1911 ~ August 26, 2006

George W. Shoenfelt, 94, born November 12, 1911, in Muskogee, OK, the son of George B. Shoenfelt and Jessie Jordan Shoenfelt. He passed away Saturday, August 26, 2006 at the Webb City Health and Rehab Center in Webb City, MO. He attended high school at OMA for 3-1/2 years and graduated from Gettysburg High School, Gettysburg, PA. During those years he washed and cleaned airplanes in exchange for flight instruction at Spartan School of Aeronautics and at age 18 earned his commercial pilot's license.

In 1939 he enlisted in the Air Force Reserves and in 1940 he joined TWA as a commercial airlines pilot. In March of 1942 he was called to active duty in WWII and served for 3 years and 9 months in the China-Burma-India theatre under Generals Stillwell, Chenault and Bissell and in North Africa under General Brereton. He flew DC-3 missions over the Himalayans to bring American and allied material and passengers into China. He helped re-supply the retreating Burmese section of the Chinese army by spotting them in pockets of the mountains, circling and dropping his cargo. His proudest moment was when he rescued 80 nurses and medics fleeing Burma and flew them to safety. He flew C-47 cargo planes into North Africa until he sustained an injury and spent six months at Walter Reed Hospital. He then returned to active duty and test piloted a wide variety of reconditioned fighter, medium bomber and cargo planes prior to returning them to action.

He received the American Forces' Silver Star, WWII Presidential Citation, American Campaign (with Foreign Service), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medals. He was awarded a personal medal for gallantry by General Chiang Kai-Shek, the highest Chinese military award, as well as another medal, the Chinese Order of Land, Sea and Air. In 1994, he was awarded a pair of Pilot Wings of the Chinese Air Force by General Tang Fei in recognition of Outstanding Personal and Professional Achievements in Military Aviation. He was discharged as a Major from the Air Force in September 1956.

After active duty, he returned to TWA and flew commercial flights until 1950 when he bought a fleet of tractor-trailer rigs and hauled explosives cross-country.

He did the flight work for the movie version of Colonel Robert L. Scott's bestseller, "God Is My Co-Pilot", the stunting in Laurel and Hardy's "Flying Deuces" and the hard tricks in Jackie Coogan's "Tailspin Tommy" serials.

He was a member of the Hump Pilot's Association, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Joplin Shrine Club, Fellowship 345, A.F.N.A.M., Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Missouri and the Abou Ben Adhem Temple, Springfield, MO.

He was preceded in death by his parents and sister LaVere Anderson. He is survived by daughter Linda A. Doering and grandson C. Seth of Tulsa and daughter Beverly J. Robinson of New Smyrna Beach, FL. and grandson Chris, granddaughter Lisa and great-granddaughter Megan, as well as many nieces and nephews. A graveside service was held at the Rose Hill Cemetery at noon on Tuesday August 29, 2006.

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