Percy Leo Saunders of Alamance County, North Carolina, died November 7, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Son of Lofton Jordan Saunders and Susan Alexander Byrd Faucette, his brothers and sisters were Carl Horace Saunders, Gladys Catherine Saunders Walker, Carnell Frances Saunders Mays and Hazel Joyce Saunders Stokes. One son, Marc Godwin Saunders, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Ann Hughes Saunders, his former wife, Frances Inez Reagan Saunders, his children Percy, Jr., Susan Paige and David Patrick Saunders, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Percy grew up on his parents' farm in Yanceyville. At 17 years old he joined the Marines and was assigned to the amphibious assault of Japan when WW2 ended. Shortly after leaving the Marines, he was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He served as a fighter pilot, flying the F-80 and F-86 aircraft in Korea where he shot down a Soviet MIG, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. He continued his service as an air gunnery range instructor at Orlando Air Base, where Percy Jr. was born, and as Test Pilot and Project Officer on the F-100 fighter system at Nellis AFB, Nevada, where Marc and Susan Paige were born. He won awards for Top Shot and Outstanding Instructor, participated in above ground testing/evaluation of nuclear weapons, and became a Senior Pilot. In the late 1950s, he spent a brief time as a civilian, producing "Susie Saunders' Brunswick Stew" and this brand of pinto beans in Reidsville, NC, where Dave was born. In the early 1960s, he reactivated his commission, continuing his flying career. He subsequently earned a bachelor's degree in business management, served as Commissary Officer at Luke AFB, Deputy Services Squadron Commander during the TET offensive in Vietnam, and Services Squadron Commander at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. He retired to Charleston, SC, as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 25 years of service. He lived there many years before moving to San Bruno, California.
He had a very clear and lucid mind until a week before he died. He was a good storyteller and was very interested in politics, writing many letters to newspaper editors expressing his passionate views. He was a devoted family man-generous, forward-thinking, and always concerned about the current and future well-being of his family. After resisting faith for many years, he became a Christian in 2015 at 88 years old, expressing that Jesus had made Himself known to him in a very clear way. The prayers for his salvation by his godly mother, father, and family were abundantly answered even at that late age.
Memorial services were held in California on November 13, 2018, and a funeral service will be held at Parks Funeral Home, 130 West First North Street in Summerville, SC, at 11 a.m. on November 17, 2018. He will be buried at Beaufort National Cemetery on Monday, November 19, 2018 at 1 p.m.
Arrangements by PARKS FUNERAL HOME, 130 West 1st North Street, Summerville SC 29483