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General Chuck Yeager Honored During Ceremony In Charleston

Chuck Yeager
Isaac Brekken/AP
FR159466 AP
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, file photo, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Yeager talks to members of the media following a re-enactment flight commemorating his breaking of the sound barrier 65 years earlier, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier, died Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, at age 97. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

Aviation pioneer and West Virginia native Chuck Yeager was honored Friday as “one of the greatest heroes in American history” by friends, family and dignitaries.

Eric Douglas
Vice President Mike Pence speaking at a memorial service for General Chuck Yeager in Charleston, West Virginia on January 15, 2021.

“Chuck Yeager got into the cockpit of the Glamorous Glennis and became the first human being ever to break the sound barrier,” Vice President Mike Pence said. “At just 24 years of age, Chuck Yeager became an inspiration to an entire generation of American pilots.”

Born in Myra, West Virginia on Feb. 13, 1923, Yeager learned to fly in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After World War II he became a test pilot.

On Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 airplane, paving the way for manned space flight. His role was immortalized in the book and the film, “The Right Stuff.”

Dignitaries and public figures including Apollo astronauts Charlie Duke and Frank Borman, along with Barbara Eden and the Oak Ridge Boys, honored Yeager in a series of recorded messages.

On the stage, Yeager's wife Victoria Yeager pointed to an empty chair and paraphrased something she remembers her husband once said.

“This chair may seem empty, but it's not,” she said. “It's full of memories. And don't any of you ever forget, don’t let your children forget, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren on down the line, know who this man was and all that he has done.”

Yeager was 97 years old when he died at his home in California on Dec. 7, 2020.

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