As the sun began to set Thursday, Joe Calvert stepped out onto the lawn that overlooks the golf course at the San Antonio Country Club with his five siblings and extended family. Moments later, a flyover formation honoring his father soared over their heads.
“I’ve seen plenty of flyovers for sure,” Calvert said. “But when it’s for your dad, it’s the best.”
Calvert is the second-eldest child and fourth son of James Calvert, the late World War II veteran who died at age 96 on April 20. Calvert said his father completed an “extremely dangerous” mission flying transports over the Himalayas during the war.
“It was the worst flying weather in the world,” Calvert recounted. “A third of the planes and crews were lost. You were unescorted the whole way. So it was a very, very dangerous, but vital mission for the war.”
Randolph Air Force Base and Lackland Air Force Base partnered to perform the missing man formation flyover — an honor reserved for well-known military service members or veterans.
Three F-16 fighter jets and a T-38 Talon supersonic jet trainer approached the Country Club from the South. One of the aircraft split off to the west, flying toward the sunset, to symbolize the departure of the deceased.
Jared Laliberte, commander at Randolph Air Force Base, helped to organize the joint flyover. He said that there were three F-16 fighter jets from Lackland and one T38 plane from Randolph.
“In the aviation world, you know, when we lose a fellow aviator, the highest honor we can give them is to give them a missing man flyby,” said Laliberte. “So we were really excited to team up between Randolph as well as Lackland and Kelly Field.”
James Calvert flew a C-47 plane in China, India, and Myanmar (formerly Burma). Calvert was the only living pilot in the country to have wings from three air forces, the United States, The Royal Air Force of Great Britain, and the Chinese Air Force. A statement from John Bloodsworth shares that Clavert flew C-47 transports in the air supply routes of the China-Burma-India Theater to bring supplies to Chinese troops fighting the Japanese with a total of 112 combat missions and 655 combat flying hours.
In 2008, then-President George W. Bush awarded Calvert the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.
“I was thinking how much Dad is enjoying this because I’m sure he’s watching, but you know, in his typical humble fashion, he’s going, ‘This is for me?’ Just like the rest of the Greatest Generation, he was a very humble, humble man,” Calvert said, smiling toward the sky.
When asked what lesson he will remember most, Calvert said his father taught him “to care about everybody — just to be a loving, caring person. He had such high integrity. He lived life the right way, and it’s a lesson that all of us can learn: how to live a good life.”