KIA January 3, 1971
Assigned to the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand
Lt. Col. Charles “Chuck” W. Stratton died January 3, 1971 when his F-4E Phantom II fighter bomber, call sign “Rancho 01”, was seen to crash and explode prior to its second pass over their target area in Savannakhet Province, Laos shortly after departing from Korat Airbase, Thailand. Also killed in the crash was his pilot, Lt. Col. Ayres; both were declared Missing in Action (MIA) on January 3, 1971.
Chuck is survived by his wife Sallie of Dallas; sons, Charles Wayne Jr. and Jeffrey Scott of Mesquite and Stephen Michael of NY; sister, Wanda Dougherty of Arlington; 5 grandchildren: Haley, Briana, Dustin, Brittany and Brandon; a great-granddaughter, Elliana; parents (both deceased), father Eurcil in 1973 & mother, Jean, in 2007.
Charles graduated in 1959 from W.W. Samuel High School and attended Southern Methodist University before joining the Air Force. According to his wife, Sallie, Chuck was a young man bent on flying for the Air Force. Charles was commissioned into the Air Force in 1961. Charles was Sallie’s first love and their story started on New Year’s Eve in 1959, where Sallie was working in a record store and Chuck tried to flirt with her and only managing to walk away with her number. They went out a few days later, and Chuck proposed within a month. The two would spend the next decade traveling from base to base and starting a family.
Chuck’s family described him as a feisty, but caring boy who once got into a fight with another relative, then retreating to the back porch where his father had recently dropped off a freshly-picked basket of peanuts. He took out his frustrations by shelling and eating the peanuts. Charles was also the double cousin to Monty Stratton, the former Chicago White Sox pitcher (1934-1938) and American League All-Star, whose biography later became the basis of the movie, “The Stratton Story”, starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson.
Chuck’s remains were officially identified by DNA forensic analysis on August 3, 2007, and returned to his family in Texas for a proper burial with full military honors.
Lt. Col. Stratton was 30 years old from Dallas, Texas.
Original portrait was presented October 24, 2015 to his family at a special memorial event during Sky Ball XIII hosted by American Airlines in Dallas, Texas.
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