Completed arrangements are being announced for Col. Will M. “Ikey” Hudson, 84, of Union City, who died Oct. 24, 2007, at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City. He was a fighter pilot and military flight instructor whose career began in World War II and concluded in the Vietnam era.
Hudson, who retired to his hometown and joined the former Farmers Exchange Bank as a trust and loan officer in 1973 before being named a vice president, earned numerous medals during his 31-year career as he progressed from a decorated fighter pilot to management positions in Air Force rescue operations and military schools.
Services for Hudson, who also served his hometown as a member of the city council beginning in 1988, will be 2 p.m. Sunday at White-Ranson Funeral Home, with the Rev. Jerry Leggett officiating. Burial will follow in East View Cemetery, with the Rev. John Polsgrove officiating. Eulogists will include Sammie Nailling, Dr. Chris Gooch, Allen Nohsey and Robert Wood.
Pallbearers will be Jerry Cheatham, Portis Tanner, Jeff Hudson, Bill Hudson, Col. Eddie Ladd and Tack Simmons.
Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Hardee’s Coffee Club, elders and deacons of Union City First Christian Church and Howard Martin, Kelley Ray, Bill Petty, Jimmy Counce, Greg Dunn, Lee Grasfeder, Bill Massengill, Dr. Pete Blanton, Bill Harrison, Bill Hairston, Ed Youngblood, Carlton Wright, Bill Tanner, Ralph Adams, Glynn Williams, Oliver Gilliam, Charles Whitby, Dorothy Calhoun, Velma Jolley, Claudia Polsgrove, Carolyn Bloebaum, Greg Moore, Leisa Dion, Mildred Coleman, Sonny Frankum, Kenny Kirkland, June Garrison, John Drerup and John Walter Cotter.
Friends may call at the funeral home 5-7 p.m. Saturday.
The family requests that memorials be made to Union City First Christian Church.
A retired military officer, Hudson was born Dec. 31, 1922, in Union City, son of the late Henderson and Ruby (Murry) Hudson. He graduated from Union City High School and enrolled at Murray (Ky.) State University and the former Memphis State College.
He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and earned his wings in April 1944 after completing flight training at Craig Field in Alabama. Within a year, he was credited with destroying four German aircraft in the European Theater as a P-51 pilot and was awarded five air medals. As an aircraft commander, he flew more than 20 kinds of aircraft in the war, ranging from the open cockpit Stearman to the F-80 “Shooting Star” and the air refuelable H-3 “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter and the C-119 and C-123 transports.
At war’s end, he returned stateside and earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1948 and his master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University. He also graduated from the Air Command and Staff College.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, he was recalled for pilot duty with the Air National Guard at Memphis and flew jet fighters and tactical reconnaissance aircraft. Assigned to helicopter duty, he began a series of Air Force rescue assignments, first in Korea as a rescue detachment commander and then at Turner Air Force Base in Georgia as chief of the base rescue detachment. Later, he was named operations officer for the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
In that capacity, he managed the Air Force rescue operations for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He was also wing chief in the Air University’s Squadron Officer School.
It was also while he served in Korea that he initiated “Operation Seldom.” Hudson made sure Americans were aware of the needs of homeless children and others in that far-away country who were victims of the war. As citizens passed on needed supplies and gifts to him, he saw to their delivery to orphanages and their distribution to other Koreans in need.
Hudson received another Air Medal for his service in Korea, plus an Air Rescue Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service medals and the Air Force Commendation Medal during his service to his country.
In 1972 he was assigned to the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana as assistant commander. He continued in that capacity until his retirement, assuming responsibility for the curriculum, scheduling and supervision of more than 60 classes annually with more than 1,200 students.
After his return to Union City with his family, he was selected president of the Obion County Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Union City Kiwanis Club and the Order of Daedalians, America’s premier fraternal organization of military pilots.
He was a board member of the Obion County Cancer Agency and was a 50-year Mason and Scottish Rite and a member of Union City First Christian Church.
Hudson married the former Bernice “Burney” Clark June 4, 1947. She survives.
He is also survived by two sons and his daughter-in-law, Will M. Hudson Jr. and Leah Hudson of Batavia, Ill., and Michael Hudson of Union City; his sister, Eleanor Corey of Paducah, Ky.; and four grandchildren, William “Bill” Hudson III, Elizabeth Hudson, Kari Jean Hudson and Jeffrey Hudson.
Condolences may be sent to the family at the funeral home Web site: www.white-ranson.com.