Sunday, July 15, 2012

TSgt Walter T. Gentry, United States Air Force, Ret.

Walter Gentry was born in Pacolet Mills, South Carolina on October 3, 1924 and passed away May 30, 2012, at the age of 87, at his home in Temple, Texas.

Walter proudly served his country in the United States Air Force for over twenty years.  His service included aerial combat missions in the European Theater.  Walter was a prisoner of war during World War II, having been captured when his aircraft was shot down, in 1944, while flying over Poland.  He was a recipient of the Purple Heart.

Walter married the love of his life, Elise, on December 2, 1949 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

After retiring from the Air Force, Walter worked for General Dynamics in Fort Worth for over 20 years, as a Maintenance Document Analyst.

On June 4 a funeral service was held at the Canyon Creek Baptist Church in Temple.  In attendance were the Patriot Guard Riders who formed a line of American flags at the entrance to welcome the arriving family and friends.

After the service, the Riders led the funeral procession to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, Texas.  There the family was welcomed by more of the Riders and fifty American flags blowing briskly in the southerly Texas wind.

After the flag draped casket was moved from the hearse to the committal shelter, the Riders formed a line of flags around the shelter as full military honors were afforded to Walter by the United States Air Force Honor Guard.

The flag that draped the casket was folded into a triangle and passed to an Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer who clutched it to his chest while the detail of three rifles fired three volleys of fire and the bugler played taps.  The flag was then  presented  to Walter's daughter on behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation for the faithful and dedicated service of Walter to his country.

After the Honor Guard retired, the family's minister read from the scripture, 1 Corinthians 15, verse 58,  "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that labour is not in vain in the Lord."  He then led the gathering in final prayer.

TSgt Walter T. Gentry, a member of "the greatest generation," was then laid to rest next to his dearly beloved wife, as the American flag flew at half-staff on the hill above.

Left to cherish his memory are two daughters and their husbands, eight grand children, eleven great-grand children, one great-great-grandchild and many other dear family and friends.

With thanks to Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home for biographical information and additional photos.

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