FARMINGTON — Linwood “Lin” Frank Wright, died peacefully and with dignity and grace at the Orchard Park Rehabilitation and Living Center on Tuesday, May 17.
L/Col. Wright, USAF, Retired, 85, was born May 31, 1925, in Stratton. He was the first born son of Malcolm and Doris Wright.
Upon graduation from Stratton High School, he earned his Maine Guide License under the tutelage of famed Maine Game Warden Helon Taylor. During World War II, he enlisted in the Cadet/Pilot Training Program and graduated a bomber pilot and commissioned a second lieutenant Army Air Corps.
After intense pilot training, he arrived in RAF Bassingbourn, England late 1944. He flew three combat air missions as a B-17 Bomber co-pilot including the second Ploesti Raid over the oil fields in Poland. After VE Day, he was involved in flying out U.S. and Allied Prisoner of War (POW) soldiers and airmen.
Upon leaving England, he volunteered to ferry B-17 Bombers home to the Midwest. It was during this mission that he met his future wife, Patricia Ann Blake, of Galesberg, Illi. After a whirlwind courtship, they were married in Oquossoc, Aug. 23, 1947.
Married life found them at the University of Maine in Orono along with hundreds of GI’s returning to college after the war. But peaceful college life would be short-lived as Linwood was recalled to participate in the Berlin Airlift. The largest humanitarian effort to date, he flew more than 120 missions between Frankfurt and Berlin, hauling everything from coffins to coal. The Berlin Airlift was the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and also the start of the Jet Age. For the next 20 years, Linwood was involved in keeping the Soviet Union at bay flying the B-29, B-47 and brought the first B-52 Stratofortress to Loring AFB, Presque Isle, June 16, 1956.
In June 1966, L/Col. Wright retired from the Air Force as Director of Safety, 8th Air Force. He moved his family back to his beloved state of Maine and began a second career as Inspector of Maine Aeronautics and retired as Director in 1991. His retirement years were kept busy running a farm, serving as chairman of the SAD 9 School Board, President of the Western Maine Transportation Board, member of the American Legion, Member of the Quiet Birdmen (QB), and playing the United States Air Force’s second passion — golf.
He is survived by his six children, Barbara A. Gooding and her husband, Frank, of Saco, Lynne A. Walsh of New Sharon, Jeffrey M. Wright and his wife, Cindy, of Farmington, Kim A. Gardner and her husband, Carlton, of Greene, Kerry A. Blacker and her husband, Jonathan, of Denver, Colo., and Gregory M. Wright and his wife, Kari, of Kennebunkport; 14 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his wife, Patricia, with whom he shared 60 years of marriage.
His family would like to thank all of the caring staff at Orchard Park Rehabilitation and Living Center in Farmington; Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice; Dr. Paul Taylor and Dr. Bert Audette.
Condolences and tributes may be shared with his family on his memorial wall at www.wilesrc.com.