“I’d rather be flying”
William Leslie (Les) Broomall, Jr, 87, passed away peacefully at home on July 31, 2019. Born July 31, 1932 in Chester, Pennsylvania, eldest son of William Leslie and Catharine Marguerite Coe Broomall, Les graduated in 1950 from Upper Leacock High School, and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before enlisting in the US Air Force in 1952. He earned his pilot’s wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1954, and was assigned to the 721st Fighter Bomber Squadron at Foster AFB in Victoria, Texas. On his first weekend in Victoria, he met Janice Martin Boothe, a lovely young second grade teacher from Yoakum, Texas. They married on April 9, 1955, and three years later, with youngsters Bill and Cathy in tow, were flying off to Chaumont AB, France, where Les had been assigned to fly the F-100 Super Sabre in the 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS). In 1959 squadron and family moved to RAF Lakenheath, England. In 1961, the Air Force sent Les and family to Laramie, Wyoming, where he earned his Master’s in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Wyoming, and Jan gave birth to daughter Shari. Then on to Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, to put that education to use in the Systems Engineering Group. Love of flying and devotion to country led him to volunteer to fly combat in Southeast Asia. After 100 missions in the F-105 Thunderchief (“Thud”), he completed a four year stint at the Pentagon. In 1971 the family moved to RAF Upper Heyford, England, where Les became Commander of the 77th TFS, flying the F-111. He went on to serve as Base Commander at RAF Sculthorpe, before being promoted to Colonel and reassigned to RAF Upper Heyford, where he enjoyed being one of less than 100 USAF pilots ranking Colonel or above still actively flying fighter aircraft. He retired in 1982 after 6 years in the Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. During his career he logged 4,835 hours of flying time in 20 different aircraft types, 295 of those hours in combat. Military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
In 1996, he retired from a second career with Lockheed Martin that had taken them to Sunnyvale, California. He and Jan returned to Austin to live out their golden years. He was diagnosed with cancer the following year, but conquered it with an operation and radiation treatment. Travels around the country and abroad continued with visits to family, Air Force, and high school reunions.
In retirement he continued to answer the call to service through stewardship of his church’s finances, choir, and active engagement in church activities; leadership and participation in the Quest program at UT; and stewardship of the family trust. To his family, he was and always will be teacher, leader, role model, hero, caregiver and fix-it man. Through it all, he never stopped reading, learning, gathering and sharing data, and tinkering with technology. He had The Knack. There are so many more awards we would want to give him, but the one he would cherish most is “Most Beloved Papa”.
His beloved wife Jan passed away on April 14, 2018, 5 days after their 63 wedding anniversary, following her own three year battle with cancer. In December he developed laryngitis, leading to a diagnosis of lung cancer in February. Treatment came too late this time, and he took his final flight, with his children at his side to see him off.
During his remaining days here with us, he was visited by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren from around the country, as well as his surviving brother. Near the end, he repeated Jan’s words: “I don’t want to leave you, but I’m ready to go,” and added “I’m ready to join my wife.” He is survived by his children, Bill, Cathy and Shari; grandchildren, Paul, Gaby, Nick and Lizzie; great-grandchildren Pasha, Shamon and Ernie; and brother Jim. He was preceded in death by his parents and his younger sister Barbara.
Memorial services were held Saturday, August 10, at 2:00 pm at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church in Austin, TX. Interment was at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, or to the charity of your choice.
- He was preceded in death by his parents and his younger sister Barbara.