03 Sep Michael G. “Mike” Major – Headed West
Mike Major flew west Sept 3. 2017. Mike is a USAFA ’62 grad, SSS member and flew F-100’s with the 81TFS, Hahn AB GE, and 510TFS/3TFW, Bien Hoa, VietnamOn Sep 3, 2017, at 10:20 PM, Patti Major wrote: “It is with a great deal of sorrow and grief that we write this message to inform you that Michael G Major left this earth on Sunday 3 Sept at 6:30 p.m. The angels came knocking on Mike’s door for the past week but he wasn’t ready to play with them until this evening. They must have offered him a great golf game or something else that he couldn’t resist, so he flew off with them after his long and valiant battle with cancer.His illness began on 7 July 2016 when he was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and after successfully combating that with Chemo and radiation he was told he was lung cancer free. Unfortunately a year later, almost to the day, he was told the cancer had metastasized to the brain. Never wavering he continued to fight with dignity and grace enduring 15 treatments of radiation to the 13 lesions in his brain. He gave it his all to the very last minute and made countless new friends of the doctors and nurses who treated him during the weeks he was hospitalized. Like the family, they were amazed and emboldened by his strength, optimism, sense of humor, and love of life. All will miss him!The good news is that he was very comfortable, very peaceful, and went with a smile on his face. While our world has lost a very special human being. We take solace knowing he is no longer in pain and is in a much better place with those family members and friend whom he loved and lost.Please know that your prayers, love, and friendship whether near or far made his illness more bearable and peaceful. He took strength in you and fought harder because of you. We, the family, thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. We know now that he is looking down from heaven with a smile on his face, and a twinkle in his eye and the deep gratitude of friendship, family, and all the love, laughs, and life you shared with him all these years.”With our deepest gratitude, Patti Major
Mike was born in Ellensburg, WA on April 16, 1940 to the late Mickey and Ken Major. He attended Ellensburg HS and was a standout student and athlete, and remained very close with all his classmates in the EHS Class of 1958. He was an honor graduate from the US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO in Jun 1962, and was commissioned in the Regular AF and was competitively selected to become a fighter pilot. In his 23+ years of service, he flew over 3600 hours in the F-100, F-104, F-4, and F-16. He served 2 combat tours in Vietnam and amassed 200+ combat missions and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor, and 14 Air Medals. Additionally, he served 2 tours in South Korea and 2 tours in Europe among numerous other stateside billets. He commanded at the squadron and wing levels, and was loved and respected by all he served with. He retired in 1985 as a full Colonel and hired as a Program Manager at Northrop-Grumman Aerospace Company in Los Angeles, CA, where he led numerous large scale international military aircraft refurbishment and development programs. Upon his second retirement in 2000, he moved to Reno, NV where he enjoyed golf, snow skiing, fishing and a large, very close group of special friends. As a volunteer with the Reno Air Races for 15 years, he rose through the ranks becoming the Air Race President and also CEO for two years until he retired in 2015.
Mike’s joyous spirit and love of life will be remembered forever by his beloved wife Patti of Reno NV, daughter Dana Hyland and her husband Kevin of Fort Collins, CO; son Mike Major and his wife Renee of Louisville, KY; step-daughter Kim Sweazy of Tampa FL; step-son Scott Riedenauer of Los Angeles, CA; 9 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Additionally, he leaves behind countless friends from his youth in Ellensburg, USAFA classmates, all his assignments and his beloved Reno. His infectious smile, his quick wit and the twinkle in his eye will be missed by all he knew. Mike never met a stranger and lived his life with a heart of service, sacrifice and dedication to all he knew.A Celebration of Life was held at the US Air Force Academy and Mike was laid to rest in the US Air Force Academy Cemetery, Colorado Springs, CO on Tuesday, October 10th.