B-29 flight celebrates veteran who devoted career to aviation

WWII Veteran Don Muncy sits in a B-29 at Springfield Municipal Airport on June 18 PROVIDED

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WWII Veteran Don Muncy sits in a B-29 at Springfield Municipal Airport on June 18 PROVIDED

For more than 30 years, Navy veteran Don Muncy was involved in aviation, from flying planes to working for the FAA in air traffic control.

His interest continued in his retirement through flying in various antique airplanes.

Then on June 18, Muncy got a special treat: He was taken up in a B-29 at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport as part of the AirPower History Tour of historic aircraft that visited the area.

It was a flight to celebrate the life of the Ohio Masonic Home resident who devoted his career to flight.

His career began in 1940, immediately following his high school graduation when he joined the Navy. While in the service, Muncy initially worked as a second mechanic operating a PBY, a Navy aircraft used for water patrol and search and rescue. He stayed in this position for about a year, until the attack on Pearl Harbor, after which he was promoted to plane captain on a different PBY.

His squadron conducted submarine patrols from southern Georgia down to the southern Bahamas until it was decommissioned in the fall of 1942. That set Muncy on the path for the rest of his career.

Following news of his squadron’s decommission, Muncy was called into his captain’s office. Here he was told he would be nominated to attend air traffic control school through a collaboration between the Navy and the civilian school in Kansas City.

Muncy worked in air traffic control for the Navy until his enlistment expired in 1946. He moved on to work as an assistant air traffic controller in the Columbus tower, then a controller in the Dayton tower before commissioning a new tower in Lansing, Mich.

In 1950, Muncy was recalled to the Navy and served as chief controller at the Naval air base in Adack, Ala. during the Korean Conflict. He continued this role through 1951, after which he returned to work in air traffic control.

One of the biggest accomplishments of his career was working as manager to the Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in San Francisco. This was a facility which took the radar towers from 10 different airports and combined them into one.

The facility was decommissioned in 2002, long after Muncy’s retirement, but its importance to him prompted him to write a memoir for his old coworkers to remember it. The memoir details how he came to be at the facility its development throughout his years there.

Muncy retired in 1977 in Grass Valley, Calif.

He and his wife lived in California for many years following his retirement and traveled all over the United States, and he began to paint.

“I never had any instruction in painting or anything. I did a lot of mechanical drawing and that sort of thing. But I always wanted to paint and so when I retired I told my wife ... I want to learn to paint,” Muncy said.

Muncy not only learned to paint, but began to teach painting classes when he and his wife moved back to Springfield in 1999. He taught classes at the Ohio Masonic Home until his wife passed away in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just one floor away from his apartment, the Masonic Home has given Muncy a small studio to continue his paintings. Many of his paintings line a corridor on the ground floor of his apartment building.

“I like to paint anything, anything I see that kind of I’m attracted to, whether it’s a portrait or landscape,” Muncy said. “I’ve done mostly landscapes, a lot of landscapes because we travelled a lot through the United States. And particularly the southwest, the desert. I like desert scenes and ... Native-Americans. But basically anything I see that I like I’ll paint it.”

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