Lloyd Fondren's Story
Lloyd Fondren Fields, Lt. Col. (USAF retired) 96, of Bellevue, WA and Hahira, GA passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 19, 2017. Lloyd was born in Hahira, Georgia on September 26, 1920, the oldest of four children to Leslie and Vera (Webb) Fields. He is preceded in death by his wife and the love of his life, Setsuko Susie Fields, his father Leslie and mother Vera Webb Fields, his brother Derry Fields, and sister Virginia Fields Garrison. He is survived by his brother, Corrence Fields, of North Florida, daughter Sharon Baker (Dexter), son Steven Fields, daughter Shelley Mickelson (Gary Schweizer); Grandchildren: Ginger Rees, Gretchen Riegel, Mark Riegel, Aaron Taylor Fields (Jennifer), Brandon Fields, Blake Fields, Taylor Fields, and Ryan Mickelson; great grandchildren: Audrey Rees, Adelheide OQuinn Paige (Josh), Thorquil Lloyd MacCorquodale, Ailsa MacCorquodale, Hans MacCorquodale, Kelia Fields, Kaitlyn Fields, Aubrey Fields, and Brooklynn Fields; great-great grandson Ian Lloyd Paige, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.A graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, he entered the Army Air Corps at age 20 on July 12, 1941. He remarked I always wanted to be a pilot. As a boy on a tobacco farm in Georgia, I could see airplanes flying overhead and wondered what it would be like to command one of those aerial machines. He flew 25 missions over Europe during World War II, 23 of which he was the lead pilot and always reminded his children that Our generation saved the world. Lloyd had a remarkable military career. During his WWII service, leading B17 formations as a pilot, he faced incredible adversity as a 22-year-old where he survived massive fighter attacks and ground fire from a ferocious German war machine. His plane and crew suffered damages and injuries, but he always brought them home safely. Following a short stint as a pilot with American Airlines after the war, he returned to his first love the United States Army Air Corps (which later that year became the United States Air Force) wherein he received two Distinguished Flying Crosses while engaging in secret military overflights over the Soviet Union that were ordered by both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower .As a Major, on October 15, 1952 in a team of two modified B47 bombers, he flew in the first mission over the Soviet Union for reconnaissance purposes. Although the Soviet Union tracked their bombers by radar, their B47s were far too swift to be intercepted in time by the fighters scrambled after them. From March 21-May 10, 1956, he was the commander of Project Home Run wherein he ran 156 successful RB-47E military reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union from Thule, Greenland via the North Pole. Stephen E. Ambrose, author of The Cold War a Military History, in describing these military missions commanded by Lt. Col. Lloyd F. Fields states on page 185, To this day, the SAC Thule missions remain one of the most incredible demonstrations of professional aviation skill ever seen in any military organization at any time. His children at the time were ages 10, 7, and 5 and never knew of these flights until 45 years later. It was a secret, Daddy said. (For more information on his life and military successes, see Early Cold War Overflights 1950-1956, Symposium Proceedings, Memoirs, Office of the Historian National Reconnaissance, Washington D.C. 2003) After the military, he began a second successful career as a State Farm insurance agent retiring only after being forced to do so as he could no longer see due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye disease that eventually robbed him totally of his sight.
Despite his vision problems, he continued to enjoy activities such as skiing and hunting well into his 70s.In his last year of life, he was surrounded by his loving children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandson including taking every single one of his descendants to his birthplace in Hahira in March, 2017. It was the best trip of his life!
Funeral services will be held at the Shiloh United Methodist Church at 6028 Shiloh Rd., Hahira, GA, at 11:00am, Saturday, April 29, 2017, with viewing one hour prior to the services. He will be laid to rest in the Shiloh Cemetery.In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Shiloh United Methodist Church, 6028 Shiloh R., Hahira, GA 31632. Condolences to the family may be conveyed online at www.mclanecares.com. Martin/McLane Funeral Home of Hahira.
Published on April 27, 2017