A selfless man of faith and family, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark C. McGeehan died June 24, 1994 protecting those under his command from a rogue senior pilot.
Lt. Col. McGeehan's willingness to give the last full measure of his life to spare others is testimony of his leadership and commitment to do right.
Born in East Liverpool Jan. 10, 1956, McGeehan was reared in Chester, one of nine children. Upon graduation from Oak Glen High School in 1974, he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he received his commission in 1978. His professional military education also included Squadron Officer School, where he was a distinguished graduate, and Air and Command and Staff College.
A senior pilot and instructor with more than 31,000 flying hours, Lt. Col. McGeehan advanced through the ranks, serving in such capacities as aide-de-camp to the commander; a faculty member of Air Command and Staff College, where he was chief of the military history and doctrine branch; operations officer of the 325th Squadron; and finally, commander of the 325th Bomb Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base.
It was while serving as commander, that Lt. Col. McGeehan faced a challenging dilemma. After receiving numerous complaints from his junior aircrews about the unsafe flying habits of one of the wing's senior pilots not under his command, McGeehan took evidence of the maverick pilot's recklessness to the wing leadership, using the appropriate chain of command, and requested the pilot be grounded. Lt. Col. McGeehan's request was denied.
With the denial, McGeehan took the remaining option available to protect his pilots and order that on one under his command was to fly with the maverick pilot. If a co-pilot was needed, McGeehan said that he would go.
On June 24, 1994 in preparation for an air show Lt. Col. McGeehan was co-piloting a B-52H bomber when the rogue pilot exceeded flight restrictions for the craft. The bomber sideslipped into the ground, killing everyone on board, the pilot, two crewmembers and Lt. Col. McGeehan.
The decorated lieutenant colonel who was active as a Boy Scout leader, Little League Coach and the Catholic Church, left behind his sons, Patrick, Brendan and Collin, and his wife, Jodie.
Ironically, just weeks before his death as Lt. Col. McGeehan was preparing to hand over the unit flag of the 325th Bomb Squadron for deactivation on July 1, he wrote in an article that was printed June 10, 1994 in the military publication Strikehawk:
"When we think of those who went before us, we should do so with humility, respecting their great personal sacrifice. When we honor our heritage and those with whom we share a common bond and purpose, we are all enriched, and our lives are made a little more worth living."