Kendall S. Young, 82, Air Force major general

February 22, 2002|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Kendall S. Young, whose 29 years in the military ranged from flying bombers over Europe and North Africa during World War II to training South Vietnamese pilots during the latter years of the conflict in Southeast Asia, died Tuesday of a malignant brain tumor at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 82.

Promoted to major general in the U.S. Air Force before his retirement in 1975, the Baltimore native logged more than 4,500 hours in the air. He was a perfectionist, whether protecting the American image in Europe or refinishing antique bureaus, his family said.

Mr. Young joined the Army's Infantry in 1941, but - because he had a private pilot's license - was transferred the next year to the Army Air Corps, later to become the Air Force. His combat service during World War II was spent in a B-24 bomber he named "Weesie" - to honor Louisa Merryman Ridgely, whom he married in 1944.

Mr. Young, whose favorite song was Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly with Me," often told his family how much he loved the sensation of soaring through the clouds: "He felt [that] in flying, he sort of got in touch with his relationship with God and felt the essence of being a human being," said one of his daughters, Deborah Skupien of Roland Park.

Released from military duty in 1945, he rejoined the Air Force in 1951, rising through the ranks to command the 7101st Air Base Wing in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1966, and the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in Upper Heyford, England, the next year.

Mr. Young wanted to ensure that the people in his command made good impressions overseas. "He didn't want us to be the `ugly Americans,'" said another daughter, Ann Fenwick of Ruxton.

While in England, Mr. Young saw that a redecorated officers' club was burning cast-off antique mahogany furniture, which he prized. He rescued pieces and in his workshop carefully restored them with homemade stains and varnishes.

"Everywhere we lived, he had workshops," Mrs. Skupien said.

In 1969, Mr. Young was transferred from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to Vietnam, where he led an Air Force effort to train South Vietnamese pilots. Heartbroken at the fall of Saigon and the country to the communist north in 1975, he helped his South Vietnamese friends escape, his daughters said.

He "should have been a four-star general," said Heinie Aderholt, a 35-year Air Force veteran and longtime friend from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. "He led by example."

A 1939 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Young studied for two years at the University of Maryland, College Park before leaving to join the military. His numerous decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

Mr. Young was a past president of the Maryland chapters of the English-Speaking Union and the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He lived in Lutherville before entering the hospice.

Services with military honors will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at St. John's Episcopal Church, 3738 Butler Road in Glyndon.

Mr. Young's wife of 57 years died in October. He is survived by two other daughters, Louisa Hopkins of Roland Park and Sally Ridgely of Ruxton; a brother, Garlin A. Young of Hampton; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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