October 2, 1915 - February 8, 2014

U.S. Veteran

Burial Date February 22, 2014


PARTRIDGE, LT. COL. JAMES ALAN, (U.S. Air Force retired) died on February 8 at Franklin County Rehab in St. Albans, with his daughter and son-in-law by his side. He was 98 years old. Alan was born on Oct. 2, 1915, in Washington, Vt., the oldest child of J. Arthur and Ruth (Hood) Partridge. He attended schools in Michigan and East Barre, and graduated from Spaulding High School in 1933. He worked for Jackson Dairy, delivering milk by day and continuing his studies by night, and pursued his love of flying by getting his pilot’s license. He successfully completed the program in St. Johnsbury for non-college applicants to become aviation cadets and passed the college competitive exam in 1941. He was called into the U.S. Army Air Corps in January 1942 right after the Pearl Harbor attack. He married Isabel Anne MacLeod, of Graniteville, on Nov. 28, 1942, in Sacramento, Calif. During World War II, Alan faithfully served his country in northern Africa and Italy as a navigator on B-25s in the 12th Air Force and B-17s and B-24s in the 15th Air Force. He flew 75 top-secret missions on low-level flights to drop areas in occupied Europe. Flying alone and unescorted and under the cover of night, their mission was to drop spies, saboteurs and military supplies to assist and develop underground resistance. Alan’s job was to guide the aircraft unnoticed through perilous mountain passes and drop their loads over the center of three bonfires. For his exemplary service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 11 oak clusters, the World War II Victory Medal, the European theater ribbon with six battle stars, and the Red Star from Yugoslavia’s Tito. Alan and Isabel lived in Wiesbaden, Germany, from 1946-1949 as part of the Army of Occupation. In 1950, they were transferred to Fort Worth, Tex., where their only child, Tootie, was born and Alan served as radar navigator in the B-36s. Alan spent the summer of 1955 in Morocco. They were also stationed in Alabama where he attended Staff and Command School, California and Massachusetts, where he was radar navigator in the B-52s. He never wanted to fly a desk. He retired in 1965 and moved with Isabel and Tootie to Graniteville. Alan taught industrial arts at Montpelier High School from 1966-72. He was a member of the Graniteville Presbyterian Church and served as elder for many years. He was an active member of Friendship Forum and assisted with many church projects. Alan always loved to fly. His first plane was a two-seater Swift, and his last plane was a Beechcraft Bonanza. He flew his family and friends to many places, landing on the beach at Matagorda Island, in a hayfield in Graniteville and on the ice on Lake Champlain. He could navigate by instruments or simply by the stars in the sky. Spending time at his camp on Lake Champlain in West Swanton was one of his greatest joys. There, surrounded by family and friends, he and Isabel spent 51 summers tending to the garden, water-skiing, swimming and boating. Papa Alan especially enjoyed being with his two grandsons of whom he was very proud and, later, with his three great-grandchildren, taking them for tractor rides, making homemade ice cream and sharing his Sunday night supper of popcorn and milk. He also enjoyed living in Graniteville in a home which he and Isabel designed and built themselves in 1976 on part of her family farm. He and brothers-in-law Jimmy and Leslie had much fun together on construction projects, repair jobs, making maple syrup and pressing apples into cider. Alan maintained his rich sense of humor throughout his life. Alan leaves a daughter, Ruth Roy (whom he always called Tootie), and husband, Ray, of Swanton; two grandsons; three great-grandchildren; his sister, Mildred Bicknell, of Newport; and many nieces and nephews, including a very special nephew, L. John MacLeod Jr., of Graniteville. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 68 years; brothers Larry, Maurice and Max; and all of his in-laws. A memorial service will be held at 1pm at the Graniteville Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Feb. 22.

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