BROKEN ARROW — George Mackie, a retired aircraft mechanic who was one of the last surviving veterans with ties to the Flying Tigers, a legendary group of American airmen who fought in China during World War II, died Aug. 4.
He was 100.
Mackie will be honored at a graveside service at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Fort Gibson.
A memorial service was held Tuesday at the First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow. Gary Kelley’s Add’Vantage Funeral Service handled arrangements.
Mackie, a Broken Arrow resident, was featured in the Tulsa World’s Serving Our Country series earlier this year.
Mackie was serving as a mechanic at an air base in California when, following the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, he was ordered to China.
There, he was assigned to the 14th Air Force’s 23rd Fighter Group.
The unit traced its origins to the previous year, when — before the U.S. officially entered the war — a group of volunteer military pilots had been sent to aid the Chinese against the Japanese.
Dubbed the “Flying Tigers,” that 1st American Volunteer Group went on to score a number of successes, helping boost public morale back home after the Pearl Harbor attack. It was then absorbed back into American forces and would continue to distinguish itself.
In his interview with the World, Mackie praised the heroic pilots with whom he served.
Not only were they highly skilled, but “you could talk to them. They treated us like we were their equals,” he said, adding that it helped forge a special bond between the pilots and ground personnel.
Born Jan. 3, 1919, in Dardanelle, Arkansas, Mackie was the son of a railroad engineer who later moved the family to Rockdale, Texas.
Mackie graduated from high school there in 1937. Three years later, with war seeming inevitable, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps.
Mackie finished his service in 1944 with the rank of master sergeant.
The family moved to Tulsa in 1955, where Mackie began a career working on planes for American Airlines.
His survivors include his wife, Billie Mackie.
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