Mr. James Roland Bryant McClain ("JR", "Pop"), formerly of Camden entered into rest on October 1, 2012 in West Columbia, SC. He was born in Camden in 1926 to the late James Edward Bryant and Jessica Stoney Bryant McClain.
After spending time with aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, he knew that he wanted to be a pilot. At the age of 16, he was able to pursue his passion for being a pilot after his employer learned of his interests in flying and taught him how to fly. After learning to fly, he became part of the Civil Air Patrol and patrolled the New York coastline for U-Boats. In 1945, he was drafted into the Army Air Corp, completed Army Air Force Basic Training in Texas and was assigned to the Tuskegee Army Air Field(TAAF #385) as a Tuskegee Airman.
He served many roles at Tuskegee from and in the Air Force Reserves at Mitchell Air Field in New York, flying a P51 Mustang. He was attached to the 15th Air Force and was a control tower operator, pre-flight inspector B-25’s, Air Force radio mechanic and an apprentice photographer. After leaving the Air Force, he worked for the New York Transit System as a conductor, served in the New York City Police Department, the New York Fire Department, and the U.S. Department of Transportation: US Coast Guard Auxiliary. He became a Merchant Marine in 1991.
He leaves to cherish his memories: Roland Bryant McClain(Regina), Anita Ursula Van Buyten, Janice McClain, Arielle McClain and Serwah Armah-Koranteng; two step-children, Marlon Outen and Janelle McGhee; nine grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
He recently traveled to Washington, DC on the Honor Flight to visit the WWII Memorial Monument.
Wake Services will be held on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM at Cooke Funeral Home Memorial Chapel. Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM at Bethel AME Church, 819 Woodrow St. in Columbia. Burial with Full Military Honors will follow at Fort Jackson National Cemetery.
Friends and family may call or visit the residence at 2416 Richland St., Columbia, SC. The online guestbook may be viewed/signed at www.cookefuneralhomeofcamden.com.
Professional Services are entrusted to Cooke Funeral Home.