Great Britain

Chuck Yeager memorial – US Air Force pilot who was first to fly faster than the speed of sound is honored at service

GENERAL Chuck Yeager, the US Air Force pilot who was the first to fly faster than the speed of sound, was honored at a memorial service on Friday.

With over 30 years of service, the native West Virginia pilot became best known for being the first to "break the sound barrier" in 1947.

Yeager's death was first announced on December 7. He was 97.

A month after his death, Yaeger was honored on Friday with a service at the West Virginia Coliseum and Convention Center in Charleston.

Speaking at the memorial service, Vice President Mike Pence hailed Yeager as "one of the greatest generals in American history."

"Chuck Yeager was a great man who dedicated his life to the service of this country," the VP added.

"He pushed the boundaries of what we understood was possible in this time," Pence said of the retired pilot.

Born in 1923, Yeager joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 at the age of 18, according to his website.

According to the Military Times' Hall of Valor Project, Yeager downed 13 enemy aircraft during World War II – and escaped capture after he was shot down.

In 1947, Yeager made history when he flew at 700mph – and "broke the sound barrier," flying faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager continued work and in 1954, began commanding the 417th Fighter Bomb Squadron.

After he was promoted to colonel and began working as a deputy director of flight test in 1961, according to his site.

The following year, he started serving as commander of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School.

In 1966, he returned to combat, this time commanding the 405th Fighter Wing in the Vietnam War.

In February 1975, Yeager flew his last official active duty flight, and retired.

Throughout his service, Yeager flew more than 360 military aircraft for over 10,100 hours.

He had four children with his first wife, Glennis Dickhouse. She died in 1990, The New York Times reported.

In 2003, he married his second wife, Victoria D'Angelo.

"Like so many of our greatest heroes, he seemed like an ordinary American kid – but in time, he became the greatest military aviator in history," Pence said of Yeager..

"His influence was extraordinary," Pence said, adding that Yaeger "inspired a generation of American pilots" and astronauts.

"I know that as long as Americans push the boundaries of what's possible, as long as we're brave enough to push the outside of the envelope, and as long as American pilots and astronauts soared of the skies of the great beyond, the life, the example, the courage, of General Chuck Yeager will ever inspire," Pence said.

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