VANCE AIR FORCE BASE — Military and civic leaders from the Enid area gathered here last Friday to induct retired Air Force Col. Chuck DeBellevue into the Partners in the Sky organization.
Vance’s Partners in the Sky is a select group of local leaders who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to promote and support the men and women of Vance Air Force Base. It is a lifetime-appointment membership recognizing outstanding commitment to the welfare and growth of Airmen stationed here.
“Our Partners in the Sky are the community bedrock for Vance and our airmen. I can’t think of a better person to officially induct than Col. DeBellevue,” said Col. Tim Danielson, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing.
“Chuck’s constant presence at base events has helped to inform and guide the next generation of young aviators,” Danielson said. “We are indeed fortunate to have a living legend as a mentor to our airmen.”
DeBellevue’s history as the top flying ace in the Vietnam War is something that awes students and instructors alike. An ace is an aviator who shoots down five enemy aircraft. DeBellevue is credited with shooting down six.
In his 30-year career he earned the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit three times each, and the Distinguished Flying cross seven times, once with Valor.
He was also awarded the MacKay Trophy in 1972, which recognizes the most meritorious flight of the year. In 1972, the Air Force flew over 300,000 sorties in Viet Nam.
“Fighting for your country. Maybe even dying for it. I come to the base and let the students know that they’ve chosen a life of sacrifice, and that it’s worth every single moment,” DeBellevue said.
He spends part of his retirement helping fellow Partners in the Sky, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Schwertfeger and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Sloniker, with the Air Warrior Courage Foundation. The foundation provides emergency funds to wounded warriors and their families in addition to other services and scholarships.