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Celebration of Life held for famed General Chuck Yeager

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 12:10 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Friends, family, dignitaries and the community joined together at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center Friday to honor one of the most famous test pilots of his generation, Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager.

Yeager, who was from a small town in the hills of West Virginia, is best known for his incredible aviation milestone in 1947 as a 24-year-old captain.

Yeager was recorded as flying faster than sound, pushing a bullet-shaped Bell X-1 rocket plane past 660 mph to break the sound barrier.

The World War II fighter pilot ace died in December of 2020 at 97.

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to West Virginia Friday to speak at the memorial service. To see his arrival click here.

Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va.
Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va.

Vice President Pence said Friday the crew in the cockpit of Air Force Two told him they felt honored and privileged to carry General Yeager on his last flight back home to West Virginia.

“It’s deeply humbling to be here with you today to pay tribute to one of the greatest heroes in American history, General Chuck Yeager,” said Vice President Pence Friday during the celebration of life.

“On behalf of the President of the United States, my family and a grateful nation, to the Yeager family and all who knew and admired the life and service of this truly great American, we extend our greatest sympathies and prayers.”

Vice President Mike Pence

During his speech, Vice President Pence spoke of Yeager’s time in service.

“In his more than 30 years of service, Yeager flew more than 350 military plans, more than 10,000 hours,” said Vice President Pence. “At just 24 years of age Chuck Yeager became an inspiration to an entire generation of American pilots.”

Victoria Yeager, Chuck Yeager’s wife, began her tribute speech Friday by speaking about how she met Chuck. She told the crowd she met him while hiking and that they made plans to hike the trail together the next day.

“So, the next day, I met him and he gathered me up into this big ole warm hug. Safe, warm, loyal and he held me there essentially for the next 20 and a half years.”

Victoria Yeager

Mrs. Yeager said her husband was a great teacher, a great encourager and got emotional when speaking of her marriage to General Yeager.

“Somebody asked me if I was happy and I said I didn’t know you could be this happy being married,” Yeager said. “I hadn’t seen it before and so, I am very, very lucky.”

She closed with something she said General Yeager said at a memorial for the NYPD and NYFD. While pointing to an empty chair on the stage Mrs. Yeager said, “This chair may seem empty but it is not. It is full of memories and don’t any of you ever forget. Don’t let your children forget. Don’t let your grandchildren, great-grandchildren and on down the line - who this man is, who he was and all that he has done.”

An empty chair was placed on the stage of Gen. Chuck Yeager's Celebration of Life in tribute of...
An empty chair was placed on the stage of Gen. Chuck Yeager's Celebration of Life in tribute of the late fighter pilot.

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