Death of a Classmate - Colonel Charles G. McLean, USAF (Ret) 7th Co.

Colonel Charles G. McLean, USAF (Ret) passed peacefully at the age of 87 on October 8, 2019. Charlie was a decorated veteran and a loving husband and father.

The son of Charles and Rose McLean, Charlie was born on October 2, 1932 and raised in Baltimore, MD. A top student and athlete at Loyola Blakefield High School, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy.  A member of 7th Company, he lettered four years in baseball, adding a star after helping beat Army. Upon graduation in 1954, he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and became a highly skilled navigator, pilot, test engineer, and program manager. He logged over 7,400 flight hours in numerous aircraft including the C-54 Skymaster, C-97 Stratofreighter, WB-50 Superfortress, EC-47 Skytrain, and the SR-71 Blackbird. Charlie was a Hurricane Hunter; earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with over 900 combat hours in Vietnam; and flew Mach 3.2 at the edge of the atmosphere. Later in his career, he was a leading test engineer on the SR-71 and the Minuteman III program, where he was recognized in General Electric's Hall of Fame for his advanced knowledge of metallurgy in weapons designs. He concluded his military career as the Deputy Director of the Joint Cruise Missile Program, receiving the Defense Superior Service Medal for his substantial contributions in developing the groundbreaking weapon and his 26 years of distinguished service to our nation. Charlie enjoyed a second career as a senior engineer with Vitro Corporation, where he was instrumental in the further development of the cruise missile and the Vertical Launch System.   

Charlie was known for his humor and quick wit, his infectious smile, and his love of life and the people around him. He was a big supporter of his USNA '54 Class, holding large annual crab feasts at his home in Deale, MD. In retirement, he was a long-time resident of Ocean City, MD and loved to travel, fish, crab, golf, and enjoy the beach with his family.

He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 24 years, the former Susan Gumpper Harper of Silver Spring, MD. He is preceded in death by his father Charles, mother Rose, brother Michael, and son Cevon. He is also survived by former spouse Claire McLean; children Chari McLean, CDR Christie Applequist USN (Ret), Col Charles A. McLean II USMC; stepchildren William Harper, Andrew Harper, Laurie Pool; and fifteen grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the USNA Chapel on November 4th at 2pm with a reception immediately following in the Leyte Gulf Room of the Naval Academy Club. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date. Condolences may be made at www.burbagefuneralhome.com. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Disabled American Veterans or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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