Capt. George F. Proudfoot

Apple Flight Leader

November, 2009, his obituary from the News-Observor:

George F. Proudfoot III  

George Francis Proudfoot III, age 65, died at home in Cary, on Wed, Nov 25, 2009, after a long battle with prostate cancer. Born Dec 16, 1943 in Denver, CO. Loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Brought peace, love, and laughter to all he touched. Survivors include: wife, Anne Proudfoot of Cary; sons, George Christopher Proudfoot of Phoenix, AZ, Daniel Proudfoot of Washington DC; stepdaughter, Lisa Peterson of Cary; granddaughter, Megan Peterson of Cary. Eldest of nine siblings - Bernie, Mary, Walter, Nicolette, Dan, Sallie, Joseph, and Karen - and uncle to many. Memorial service on Sat Dec 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Unity Church of the Triangle, 118 S Person St., Raleigh, NC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Unity Church of the Triangle or Duke Home Care & Hospice.

A message from Bob Schmitt:

George Proudfoot, a squadron pilot in 1968-69, was a true Renaissance man.  He was a talented and trusted Phantom pilot.  George flew the F-4 Phantom with the Black Knights in Chu Lai, Vietnam from June 1968 to July, 1969. He also served a three-month tour with the Korean Marines near Hoi An, as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) from November 1968 to February, 1969.  After his Marine Corps service, he continued to fly hang-gliders throughout most of the western states.

He joined EDS after active duty, worked for Ross Perot's pet project on Wall Street, where Ross was going to "revolutionize" brokerages with technology.  He later was a founder of Data Design Associates, a very successful developer of mainframe software for the Fortune 50.

Most of his career was in the Bay area, but he moved in the '90s to the Raleigh, North Carolina area where he had executive positions with Global Knowledge and American Research Institute.

I met George at Cherry Point. where I joined VMFA-513 as a RIO (F-4 back seat).  We flew together many times and became friends possibly through a mutual admiration of "Catch-22".  On a deployment to Yuma, AZ to concentrate on bombing skills, we became self-taught boomerang "experts" to pass the time.  George had been to Yuma previously and knew his way around the Grand Canyon, at least in a Phantom.  We had one memorable ride below the rim, likely against the rules even then.

July 1968, Capt. Proudfoot receiving his first Air Medal


Returning from a successful multiday mission to Udorn AFB, April 1969


The Apple Flight crew included RIO Bob Schmitt

I was sent to Chu Lai, Vietnam, arriving late May 1969. George wound up in the same squadron, VMFA-314, just a few weeks later.  One of my duties was writing the flight schedule and I scheduled myself with pilots I could trust. That included George and we flew many times together.  When new Quonset-hut quarters were built for the squadron, we shared a one-quarter section as roomies.  The photo above is right outside the hut.  Note the sandbags on the right and the slit trench on the left, our protection during rocket attacks.

My logbook shows we flew 46 missions as Apple Flight, our call sign taken from the Beatles' record label. Not especially warlike. The best "missions" took us away from Vietnam.  There was the "Great Udorn Divert", where a failed generator and my checkbook resulted in a few days at Udorn AFB Thailand.  Civilization, or nearly so!  The hats in the photo above were required Air Force attire; the beads were optional.

Shortly after this in May 1969, our names came to the top of the "good deal" list and we ferried a Phantom from Chu Lai to an overhaul facility in Atsugi, Japan.  We made brief stops at the Naval Air Station Cubi Point, the Philippines, Naha AFB in Okinawa, MCAS Iwakuni, Japan and finally Atsugi.  We left Chu Lai on May 1 and arrived in Atsugi on May 6.  These were my last missions in Vietnam.

It took longer to get back to Chu Lai, by way of (a few days in) Tokyo, the Bullet Train to Kyoto, a local train to Hiroshima/Iwakuni and military flights back. We were in the officers' mess at Futema MCAS, Okinawa on May 18 when the story came through that a Phantom had collided with a C-130 tanker based at Futema. The tanker was refueling two Phantoms from VMFA-314.  Those crews survived, but all on the C-130 and the other Phantom perished. That pilot had been in my TBS class, Charlie Pigott.

A quirk of fate awarded a second R&R to aircrews.  At the end of May, we went to Hong Kong where I celebrated my 25th birthday. In mid-June, I left Vietnam for MCAS Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii and George was sent to El Toro, California. My active duty service ended in August, 1971, but I remained in Hawaii until 1985.  George visited Hawaii once and we stayed in touch by mail.  After my relocation to Southern California, I visited George in Fremont a few times and attended his wedding with Anne in May 1990.

Bob, Bob's wife Shannon, George and Anne Proudfoot at the Reunion

George and Anne came to the squadron reunion in San Diego,January, 2007 and he got to fly the F-18 flight simulator at MCAS Miramar.  As I recall, he not only "flew" under the Coronado Bay Bridge but also made a bomb run on La Jolla.  All synthetic, of course, but his piloting skills were undiminished.  Good show, George!

George, Bob, Anne Proudfoot and Bob's wife Shannon.  Cary, NC, May, 2009

Last Update: December 18, 2009

Play appropriate Music:  "Will Ye No Come Back Again", a Scottish tune played in the last battle scene of Gunga Din. This version is from a Canadian military day remembrance ceremony.