CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Chuck Yeager will give West Virginia one more fly-by this week. The late Brigadier General who was born and raised in Lincoln County, will be brought back to the Mountain State to be remembered in a memorial service Friday in Charleston. His final resting place will be at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington D.C.
“It will be open to the public and I think that was a gift Mrs. Yeager wanted to give to the people of West Virginia because Chuck Yeager was ‘our guy’.” said Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin of the ceremony.
The service will start at noon Friday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. It will be broadcast live on MetroNews Affiliate station 580-WCHS and will be live streamed across the world. Yeager was an ace fighter pilot in World War II and became the first man to break the sound barrier in 1947, ushering in the space age.
“Our only arguments were when I would say, ‘You’re a hero.’ and he would say, ‘No, I’m not.’” said his widow Victoria Yeager speaking Monday on 580 Live on WCHS Radio in Charleston. “He didn’t understand any of that because his whole thing was duty. That’s what he was told to do and he did it. He appreciated it, when people would show appreciation because he did risk his life.”
Yeager’s birth in Myra and his childhood in Hamlin, West Virginia were building blocks in his life Victoria explained. Work in the gas fields with his dad helped young Chuck learn how to repair pumps and have a mechanical mind–which would serve him well on the X-1 project.
“He wouldn’t let anybody work on the X-1 except himself,” she explained.
Yeager’s hunting as a boy taught him the necessary skills to hit a moving target. Those lessons were the demise of many Luftwaffe pilots over Europe during World War II. Sledding on a two wooden staves taught him physics and certain dynamics of movement which would later give him an edge flying.
Although he never returned to West Virginia to live, West Virginia never left him.
“One of the things his father said, and I don’t remember when he said it, but I think it was after news of the X-1 came out, was ‘Don’t forget where you came from son,’” said his widow. “He never did. He loved Lincoln County.”