LeRoy Joseph Manor died at his home in Shalimar, Florida, on February 25, 2021. Almost precisely one-hundred years before, on February 21, 1921, he was born in another home, a farmhouse on the French Settlement Road in Beekmantown, New York, to Walter and Delia, the second of five children: Harold, Lois, Dorothy, and Lawrence; Lawrence survives him.
On occasion and over time, Roy had expressed, in the self-effacing way that perpetually had the undercurrent of a subtle but effervescent humor that formed his character, that he would like to reach the age of 100. He did that on February 21. Like every endeavor throughout his life, it was well accomplished.
The ethics of community, compassion, service and duty began in the North Country and informed his life, first as a child and young man on his parents’ farm, through college, as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in the community where he was raised, during his 36-year Air Force career, and continuing until his death. In that schoolhouse, Roy taught multiple grades, his students including siblings and children from his small community, the lessons often imparted while he cooked their lunches on a wood-burning stove. He traveled the world as an Air Force officer and fighter pilot. On June 6, 1944, at the stick of a P-47 Thunderbolt, he flew top cover for the Normandy invasion, a leather-helmeted pilot, a twenty-three year old participant in a great historical event, a farm boy now as equally skilled in combat aviation as on a three-legged milking stool in his father’s dairy parlor. Through the subsequent years and miles, he never forgot his roots or compromised his principles.
Roy received his pilot wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corps in August 1943. He retired from the Air Force as Chief of Staff of the United States Pacific Forces on July 1, 1978 at the rank of lieutenant general. In the interim, he served in assignments throughout the country and the world. He flew 322 combat missions: 47 in Europe during WWII in P-47s and 275 in Vietnam in F-100 Super Sabres, where he commanded the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phu Cat Air Base. Roy carried the scars of battle throughout his life: fragments of artillery in an arm and leg from a burst of flak high above France. Throughout the plaudits of career and rank, he was, first and always, a fighter pilot. It was his passion and his calling.
As commander of the Air Force Special Operation Force, Roy was selected to plan, organize, and implement a covert operation conducted on November 22, 1970, to free and rescue U.S. prisoners of war from the Son Tay Prison Camp located near the outskirts of Hanoi. Unknowable to the intelligence available at the time, those held had been relocated to other sites shortly before the raid. Though short of the primary mission, the operation contributed to the consolidation of captive personnel, boosting their morale and improving their treatment. The mission was a model of excellence; it’s execution continues to be studied and taught in the field of military special operations.
General Manor was a Senior Command Pilot, having flown over 6,500 hours. He was proficient in many aircraft; his favorite ride was the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. Roy was
awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters; the Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster; the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster; the Air Force Medal with 25 Oak Leaf Clusters; the Purple Heart; as well as awards from the governments of Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and France. He earned the respect of all in the chain of command, above and below. He earned the love of a family that will forever be guided by the bottomless depth of his character and humility.
Roy was a patriot by nature; his love of country was true but quiet, neither expedient nor flashy nor mercenary. He abided by a deep faith and religious commitment, profound but private. He was gentle and humble and kind; there was no pretense. Roy was a raconteur; his stories over coffee and dessert riveted and entertained. He never made himself the object of those stories; he never failed to recognize, and express appreciation for, the people who were a part of and contributed to his success.
Roy’s greatest privilege was his marriage. He met Dolores Harriett Brookes at New York Normal College in Plattsburgh, from which they graduated in 1940. They married on November 21, 1940 in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dannemora. The celebration, though robustly joyous, was brief; cows, being cows, required milking at 5:00 am, and he was astride that stool on November 22.
A committed runner (who competed in several marathons while in his 60s) and quick-footed tennis player, Roy was a hearty and hale 57 upon his retirement from the Air Force. He continued to live a life beyond himself, serving as president of The Retired Officers’ Association (now The Military Officers’ Association of America) and, most notably, as father, grandfather, great grandfather, mentor, neighbor and friend.
Roy and Dee were partners in life for 72 years. Once fully retired, they took to the road in a series of motorhomes, Roy’s expertise and long history of navigational skills serving to ply the nation’s byways as completely and expertly as his earlier flawless domination of the skies. Dee died in 2012; they now are partners for eternity.
In addition to Lawrence, Roy is survived by: children Alan (Sally 2002), Mary (Virgil) and Dean (Patricia); grandchildren Mark, Anita Krueger (Warren), Claire (Michael), Ellen (Chris), and Neal (Callie); great-grandchildren Dillon Mahaffey, Sean Mahaffey, Amelie, Coen and Victoria Aurand, nephews, nieces, and other family.
His children are grateful for their Dad’s Second Family, Susan and David Miner, their daughters, Cristy and Cari, and their families, as well as Marie Miller and Cathy Cardreon, all of whose friendship and devotion to his well-being and happiness cannot be overstated.
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