Alexander Howard Calkins Harwick from Tallassee, Alabama, has passed away at the age of 80 after a hard fought battle with cancer. He was first married to Elisa Hahl from Valkeakoski, Finland, from 1962 to 1980 with whom he had his two sons, George (Tad) and James (Jim). He later married Rosemary (Meadows) whom he loved dearly, and with whom he shared the golden years of his life. Alex was a loving father to his sons and their spouses, Toshiko and Shannon, and an extremely proud grandfather to his granddaughter, Milana (Lana). Alex also dearly loved his stepchildren: Bryan Meadows (Amanda), their children, Alina, Carlee, and Landon; Craig Meadows, son Blake (Kristen); Jeff Meadows (deceased); and Mona Whitman (Mike) their daughters Megan Renfroe (Jeremy and daughter Emma Jane) and Morgan McBride (Hunter). Alex was a patriot who served in the United States Air Force for 23 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1985.
Alex was an Eagle Scout, member of the Order of the Arrow, and a gifted athlete who loved to play baseball, basketball, and soccer. He was bilingual (French) and spoke numerous Oriental and European languages to some degree. Although he could be considered a citizen of the world, having lived and worked on three continents, he was an extremely patriotic American. He was quiet and very modest, and, was very humorous on occasion. He was dedicated to his profession and to his country. He was considered by his fellow flyers as a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot, and he was known for his superior skill and knowledge in his profession.
Alex graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1962. He became one of the most prolific F-4 fighter pilots in the world, being the first to 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 flight hours. He flew 257 combat missions in Viet Nam totaling 754 combat hours. He was proud of his 100% success rate, hitting every target in combat. Known as the expert in air-to-ground gunnery, Alex authored the manual for bombing which was used by the US military and eventually stolen by the Soviets who trained their pilots with his techniques as well. In addition to his numerous commendations, which included 23 Air Medals, Alex earned 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses while flying out of the famed 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Udorn, Thailand. During his career, he never lost a bombing competition and won “Top Gun” 11 times, every one he was eligible for. He wrote a book titled “Fun, Foolishness, and Frivolity Flying Fighters” which describes his flying experiences. It is a great read for anybody who wants to know what it is really like to be a fighter pilot.
Alex was a devout Christian. He would ask each of his hospice nurses, and even sometimes strangers, if they “knew where they were going when they passed.” He would refer them to John 3:16 and hoped they would share his faith. One of his great passions was to take part in a Christian mission assisting older Ukrainian orphans to be adopted by families in the United States.
Alex was an avid car collector and owned more than 70 cars during his life. He loved his cars so much, he gave every one of them a name and even wrote a book about them titled My Many Love Affairs.
Alex will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery alongside his father who also served in the United States Air Force in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. Alex will be lovingly and proudly remembered, and he will be dearly missed. A “Celebration of Life” will be planned and announced at a later date.
Jeffcoat Funeral Home Directing