Lt. Col. Jeff Johnston Piercy Memorial Scholarship

The Lt. Col. Jeff Johnston Piercy Memorial Scholarship has been established in his memory through the Daedalian Foundation by his daughters. The scholarship will go equally to young women and men who are native Missourians who aspire to be Air Force aviators.

Lt. Col. Jeff Johnston Piercy, USAF, (Ret.), aged 95 years, of Carthage MO, died quietly and peacefully on Friday, November 15, 2019 at his Missouri Century Farm in rural Carthage with his daughters by his side. He was born on April 25, 1924 on the same farm to Trenton Otterbine Piercy and Jessie Webb Johnston Piercy. He graduated from Carthage High School in 1942 where he was in the Army Junior ROTC Program. He was sworn in as an enlisted student at U.S. Army College Training Detachment, College of Idaho, Caldwell ID on February 28, 1943. In July of 1944 he was selected as an Aviation Cadet US Army (Air Corps).

Aviation Cadet 1944

While in Idaho he met the love of his life Leatha Annabelle Feeler. On April 15, 1944 he completed Army Air Force Pilot School at Douglas Army Airfield, Douglas AZ and was sworn in as a second lieutenant. Jeff married Leatha in Carthage on April 23, 1944. They enjoyed over 62 years together traveling the USA and the world.

During WW II as a 19-year old aircraft commander he flew 26 B-24 bomber missions (178 combat hours), including daylight bombing of Germany, out of the 567th Bombardment Squadron, 389th Bombardment Group, 8th Army Air Force in Hethel, England.

B-24 in Hethel

During his more than thirty years in the military service he had many assignments, serving most notably as a C-45 and C-47 pilot, Hq. 20th Weather Squadron Nagoya, Japan during the occupation after WW II; a C-54 aircraft commander during the Korean War airlift from USA to Japan, 62nd Troop Carrier Group, McChord AFB WA; a C-124 Globemaster pilot in Operation Bali-Hai, the first round-the-world troop carrier mission transporting a French Garrison to Indochina, 62nd Troop Carrier Group, Larson AFB WA; a T-33 pilot and assistant adjutant, Tactical Strike Force, Hq. 12th Air Force during the Formosa crisis, Connally AFB TX; C-118 and U-3 pilot and executive officer to the Commander, Space Systems Division, Los Angeles Air Force Station CA, which coordinated the early space program at Cape Canaveral FL; and a C-7A aircraft commander and Squadron Commander, 458th Tactical Airlift Sq., Cam Ranh Air Base, Vietnam.

Retirement with wife and daughter

He was a USAF command pilot with 6,474 flying hours and a commercial pilot license: single and multi-engine land. His medals include: Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster (OLC) & three bronze OLCs; Air Force Commendation Medal with three bronze OLCs; American Campaign Medal; European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze stars; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal; National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He completed a BA in Business Administration in 1961 through the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Civilian Institutions Program at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was a member of two honorary management fraternities: Sigma Iota Epsilon and Beta Gamma Sigma. He retired from the Air Force in 1973. In 1975 he completed an MA in Environmental Management at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In 1985 he was inducted into the Order of Daedalians, Stinsons Flight.

In 1975 he became a commercial, residential and investment realtor with Rosow and Kline Realtors, Inc. in San Antonio and later owner and broker of Piercy Enterprises which specialized in the same areas. He served on the board of directors of the Security Service Federal Credit Union which had over 120,000 members and $260 million in assets at that time. He was president, 1st vice president, and chairman of various committees from 1972 to 1989. He was an election worker and presiding judge at the Central Counting Station, Bexar County TX from 1989 to 1999. He took pleasure in caring for his 1931 Ford Model A for over 67 years and relished driving it in the Maple Leaf Parade in Carthage. He enjoyed working on his farm and tinkering with many projects when he returned to Carthage in late 2007. He was proud of being a good steward of the land on his family’s farm and carrying on the conservation efforts begun by his family before him. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Carthage where he was an elder for several years and was active in his church’s turn to deliver meals from the Carthage Senior Center to local homebound individuals for as long as he could.

On his bucket list was to fly a biplane. For his 88th  birthday in 2012 his daughters had the Commemorative Air Force out of Olathe KS fly down a newly restored PT-13 A Stearman to a rural airstrip north of his farm. He flew the plane over his farm and Carthage. It was a most successful flight and one of his happiest birthdays!

He wrote in his own words for the Airmen Heritage Archives of the Air Force Memorial in 2010:

“I wanted to fly ever since I saw my first airplane. At 18 I was sworn in as an enlisted student in the US Army and was directed to the US Army College Training Detachment at the College of Idaho. I met my future beautiful wife, Leatha, during that auspicious first assignment! Selected to be an Aviation Cadet in the Air Corps I completed pilot training at Douglas Army Airfield, Arizona. I loved being a pilot and flew 11 different operational aircraft over the years. I flew B-24 Liberators in WW II, C-54 Skymasters in the Korean War and C-7A Caribous in Vietnam. I served in bomb groups; troop carrier units; Air Weather Service; 18th, 12th and 3rd Air Forces; Space Systems Division; and USAF Security Service. The Air Force enriched my life and my family’s life with worldwide travel experiences and from living in many US states, Japan and England. Leatha, my wife, made this nomadic life possible by creating and keeping our home regardless of the situation while raising our two daughters — she made the good times outstanding and the bad times bearable. I am grateful to have been able to serve my country in the USAF and also to see that rub off on my daughters, Ann Lisa is a retired USAF Major and Jeanne is a retired USCG Chief Petty Officer. At this time in my life, I can look back over the 30 years and say being in the Air Force was a truly wonderful and rewarding profession.”

He was a “Greatest Generation” son who was born on a rural farm with no electricity or running water, attended school in a one-room schoolhouse until high school and ultimately became a command pilot that circumnavigated the world. Jeff was a humble man who was honest, strong, a good leader and truly an officer and a gentleman in every aspect. He predominately had a cheerful and positive attitude towards everything. When his daughter asked him if his funeral and celebration of life could be postponed to 2020, if he passed, he said: “I don’t need a celebration I have been celebrating my whole life!” He believed in hard work, saving money, taking care of things through good stewardship and being grateful for every opportunity and experience given to him by the grace of God.

His visitation was held at Knell Mortuary in Carthage on Sunday November 24, 2019. His planned funeral and celebration of life, to be held on his 96th birthday, April 25, 2020, was postponed due to the pandemic. In place of that event, on the 73rd birthday of the USAF, Friday September 18, 2020, his ashes were buried with full military honors at the Hackney Cemetery, Carthage MO.

Air Force Memorial

His daughters believe he would be pleased to have scholarship recipients honor his legacy by becoming the very best Air Force aviators possible.