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Colonel Walter  R. (Raymond) Renfro, (USAF, Ret.)

Obituary for Colonel Walter R. (Raymond) Renfro, (USAF, Ret.)

October 13, 1919 - November 2, 2019
College Station, Texas | Age 100


Colonel Ray Renfro peacefully passed away on November 2, 2019 in Bryan, TX at the age of 100. He was born October 13, 1919, the eldest of six children, on a farm near Big Cabin, OK.

Ray graduated from N.E. Oklahoma Junior College, Miami, OK and in 1941 graduated from Oklahoma A&M College, Stillwater, OK. He immediately joined the U.S. Marine Corps, separating in 1941, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1944. During WWII, Ray served as a pilot, flying 24 combat missions, in the Troop Carrier Command in Europe. He flew C-47s towing infantry filled gliders, dropping paratroopers and supplies behind enemy lines.

Following WWII, Ray went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company as an accountant in Bartlesville, OK, (1945-1951) but remained in the USAF Reserve.

Ray was recalled to active duty in 1951 during the Korean War and served as a flight instructor, flight examiner and test pilot (flying B-52s, T-6s, T-28s and T-33s) in Europe and at various U.S. bases.

Ray was stationed in England, Ireland and Scotland between 1954 and 1957. He was a test pilot on F-86s, Ks and Fs, as well as B-26s at various contractors' plants and delivered aircraft to France, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Spain.

During 1967-1968, Ray flew 192 combat missions in S.E. Asia in the RF-4C aircraft. He was assigned to the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Saigon, Vietnam where he flew over very hostile targets that were defended by a heavily concentrated array of anti-aircraft guns and missiles.

Ray spent the rest of his Air Force career in the procurement and production field. He was responsible for awarding numerous overhaul and maintenance contracts for aircraft such as F-4s, B-52s, C-135s and for the VIP/Special Air Mission fleet of aircraft.

After retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 with 33+ years of service, Ray was an academic instructor at the University of Oklahoma for nine years. In 1988 Ray and his wife, Betty, moved to the Air Force Village II in San Antonio, TX.

Ray always had a great love of flying, especially in fighter type aircraft amassing over 6800 flight hours. Decorations included the Legion of Merit Award, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 15 Air Medals, four Commendation Medals, a recommended Silver Star and numerous other awards and decorations.

Ray was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Betty Lea (Weisz) Renfro; his second wife of 7 years, Verna (Porupsky) Renfro; his parents, Joseph and Myrtle (Lord) Renfro; brothers, Edgar Harold Renfro, Bobby Lee Renfro, and Billy Pat Renfro. He is survived by his brother, Jack Renfro and his sister, Alberta (Renfro) McKay, both of Bartlesville, OK; and numerous nieces and nephews.


Chaplain Richard Ponce will officiate. Interment with Military Honors will follow in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Freedom House Memory Care at the Air Force Village II (Blue Skies of Texas), San Antonio, TX.

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