Lt. Col. Felix R. Csorosz

MISSOULA, Mont. – Lt. Colonel Felix R. Csorosz, always known as “Phil” to his friends, took his final flight at St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula, Mont. with wheels up at 8:42 a.m. on August 21, 2020.

Phil was born in Lisbon Falls, Maine on April 3, 1928 to John and Anna Csorosz. The family lived near the center of town on Addison Street in a house built by his father near the old high school. He was the youngest of his family with two older brothers, Andy of Bath, Johnny of Lewiston and one sister, Mary (Lefebvre) of Portland, Maine. He graduated from Lisbon Falls High School in June of 1946.

Inspired by his two brothers Andy and John, both veterans of World War II, Phil left home and joined the United States Air Force at Fort Preble, Maine in October 1948.

Phil traveled to Waco Field, Texas and began aviation cadet training in the AT-6 and B-25 aircraft. His next assignment was Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Mont., where he piloted the C-54 transport aircraft from 1949-1951. During missions to Alaska and across the Pacific, Phil wrestled the controls of his plane in the worst flying conditions through typhoons and sub-zero weather with ice sheets forming on the windshield. Phil always returned his plane and crew safely. God was surely his Co-pilot.

While stationed in Great Falls, Phil met his future wife, Betty Johnson. They were married in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1951. From 1951-52, he was assigned to Tachikawa AFB in Japan as a C-54 pilot with Korean Airlift Operations. In 1952, Capt. Csorosz returned to McChord AFB in Tacoma, Wash. to raise his family. In Tacoma, he flew the C-124 Douglas Globemaster for Pacific Operations. In 1958, he was assigned to England as an operations officer for the North Atlantic region. His wife Betty, daughter Kristine, and son Paul, traveled overseas with Phil by ship. His next assignment was Rhein Main AFB in Frankfurt, Germany from 1959-61, where their youngest daughter Carolyn was born.

Phil’s next assignment was Andrews AFB near Washington, D.C. with the 89th Special Air Missions Squadron as pilot of the Lockheed Constellation, KC-135, and Boeing 707 aircraft. Phil transported diplomats, the Secretary of Defense and foreign dignitaries all over the world. He was also the pilot for Air Force Two. In 1967, he was given the honor of retrieving the astronauts who died on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy during the Apollo One training mission to the Moon.

In 1968, Lt. Col. Csorosz and his family moved to Yokota AFB, Japan, where he flew the WC-135 and commanded the 56th Weather Recon Squadron. His family departed Japan for stateside in 1971, while Phil completed jungle survival school in Spokane, Washington. From Spokane, Phil was sent to Phan Rang AFB in Vietnam as Commander of the 9th Special Operations Squadron in 1971 also known as the “Night Wings.”

Phil’s final military assignment was Altus AFB in Oklahoma in 1972, where he served as Commander of the 443rd Headquarters Squadron for 5 years. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1978 as Lieutenant Colonel, finalizing a distinguished career of military service.

The following is a list of Lt. Col. Csorosz’s awards and citations: The Bronze Star, United States Air Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Korean Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

In civilian life, Phil became a flight instructor for Lear jets and Cessna Citations in Wichita, Kansas and flew corporate jets for private companies out of Laredo, Texas and Missoula, Montana. Phil moved to Missoula in 1981 with his wife Betty where they enjoyed an active lifestyle with friends and family.

Phil enjoyed golf, tennis, snow and water skiing, and played guitar, ukulele and harmonica. During his youth in Maine, he practiced ice hockey and was an excellent ski jumper. In Oklahoma, Texas and Montana, he won trap and skeet competitions for marksmanship. Phil approached every activity with precision and excellence.

Felix lived a long and energetic life. He was active as husband, father, brother, uncle, pilot and friend. After a life of adventure and world travel, he made his last flight into the “wild blue.”

Phil is survived by his daughter Kristine Csorosz of Missoula, his son, Paul Csorosz of Missoula, his daughter Carolyn Csorosz Payne and her husband David Payne of Bountiful, Utah; his granddaughter Julianna Payne of Pittsburgh, Pa., grandson James Payne of Bountiful; and many nieces and nephews.

He was proceeded in death by his wife of 68 years, Betty; his parents John and Anna Csorosz of Lisbon Falls, Maine; his brothers, Andrew and John, and his sister Mary.

“From Maine to Montana, we miss you, Dad.”

Funeral Mass was held on Sept. 12, 2020 in Missoula, Mont., at St. Francis Xavier Church with full military honors. Burial for Felix R. Csorosz will be in Saint Cyril Cemetery, Lisbon Falls, Maine.

Phil’s memorial ceremony and Tribute Video may be viewed on the Garden City Funeral Home web site, Missoula, Mont.

Lt. Col. Felix R. Csorosz

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