American hero Chuck Yeager passed away on Monday night, according to a tweet posted by his wife Victoria. The legendary pilot was 97 years old, and the embodiment of the American spirit.
Yeager was born on February 13, 1923 in Myra, West Virginia, the son of a coal miner and gas driller. The magnitude of his 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.”
Sad to hear about Chuck Yeager.
One of my favorite passages — in that roundabout, Tom Wolfe way — is about Chuck Yeager: the most righteous of all possessors of the right stuff. pic.twitter.com/IFqiXmjyET
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) December 8, 2020
Chuck Yeager, inventor of the pilots’ drawl. From “The Right Stuff,” by Tom Wolfe. pic.twitter.com/C8HwzEBYDw
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) December 8, 2020
“Despite a youth in the poverty-stricken backwoods of West Virginia, Yeager became a fighter ace, a legendary test pilot, a leader of men, and an icon for generations, all while doing what he loved: flying,” Yeager’s website notes. “His is an American story, one that inspires us and teaches us to always look to the skies.”
Fr @VictoriaYeage11 It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET. An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever.
— Chuck Yeager (@GenChuckYeager) December 8, 2020
In a tweet posted to Yeager’s account, his wife Victoria wrote, “It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET.”
“An incredible life well lived, America’s greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever,” she said.