NOTAM 02-2014 (Harper)

Golden Eagle NOTAM
Col Edwin A. Harper, USMC (Ret)

Dear Golden Eagles,

It is my sad duty to report that Col Edwin A. Harper, USMC (Ret), 93, made his Last Take-Off on 14 February 2014 at his home in Lake St Louis, MO. He is survived by his wife, Jane, his daughter, Debbie, seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. A Memorial Service will be conducted at the Baue Funeral Home, St Charles, MO on Friday 21 February 2014. Interment will be at the Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Col Harper was born in Bassano, Alberta, Canada in 1920. His early years were spent in Canada, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington.  He attended the University of Idaho for two years until the outbreak of WWII. In February 1942 he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program and received his wings the following January. He joined the “Black Sheep” of VMF-214 on 7 August 1943 and flew 97 combat missions with that squadron flying the F4U Corsair over the Solomon Islands. During this tour he shot down one enemy aircraft and had two probable kills during fighter sweeps over Kahili and Rabaul. On 17 October 1943, he was wounded in aerial combat and brought his damaged Corsair back to his home base at Munda. Even though wounded he flew again the following day and scored a probable kill on a Japanese Zero fighter.

Following the end of WWII, he served in various operational billets to include leading a detachment commissioned to employ the Marine Corps first night all weather ground controlled bombing system during the Korean War. Under his leadership as OIC, this unit was credited with controlling over 900 interdiction and close air support missions in support of the 1st Marine Division. From 1952 -1955 he was a Project Engineer at NAVAIR responsible for the development and production of the MPQ-14 Radar Bombing System. Assignment as the Executive Officer of VMA-322 preceded his return to the technical world where he interacted directly with industry (Litton) for the development of the Marine Tactical Data System. In 1962 he was selected to command VMA-225 which under his leadership was selected to be the Marine Corps Attack Squadron on the Year. Subsequent to his command tour he was ordered to Europe as Chief, Command Center, US European Command. Vietnam service followed in 1965 which included assignment as the Senior Marine Advisor for Marine Aviation on the MACV Staff in Saigon. During the second half of this Vietnam tour of duty he served as CO, MAG-13. After returning from combat in 1966, he became the Project Manager for the A-4M and the AV-8 on the NAVAIR staff. For his notable achievements throughout his career but most importantly for his heroism in combat, Col Harper was awarded three DFC’s, seven Air Medals, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.
Following his retirement from active duty in 1969 he took a position with McDonnell Aircraft as VP/ General Manager for the AV-8 Harrier Program, and then in 1987 he was employed by Smith Industries as a Non-Executive Director, a position he held until 1997.

Col Harper’s distinguished career included service in three of our Nation’s wars with direct combat in all of them. In addition to his 97 missions with the “Black Sheep”, he flew 21 missions in Korea and 14 Missions in Vietnam. Always a gentleman, he was not only a fearless aviator he was a skilled engineer who made major and long lasting contributions to Marine Corps Aviation. Another member of the Greatest Generation has left us behind.

He will be missed.

In sadness,

Fred Lewis-Pilot