Lt. Col. Charles Lile of the United States Air Force left behind an army of people who loved him.
He passed away Friday, June 15, 2012 after battling a failing body in the hospital. He was 92-years-old.
Lile was a well-decorated World War II hero, although his son said he would not call himself a hero, and his father would say, ‘only those who never came home were the heroes.’
Lt. Col. Lile earned many awards including two bronze stars with clusters, meaning service and heroism. He also earned the Liberation of the Philippines medal and two Presidential Unit Citations.
His son, Lt. Col. John Lile, was a chaplain for the Oklahoma Army National Guard. He always thought of himself as a military man because of his father’s passion for serving our country.
“As I began to learn more about the extreme suffering during that conflict (WWII) and the buddies he lost and seeing aircraft crash, and they are shouting at the pilot, ‘kill it kill it kill it,’” described Lt. Col. John Lile. “These are the kinds of things I heard about, and it caused me as a young man to have a deep and continually growing admiration for this man who I think is a hero.”
His daughter, Mary Dawn, never knew about all her father’s responsibilities to the general at the time he served, from 1940 to 1970. She read through his journals and discovered the legacy he left behind.
“Reading that is where I found ‘you drove around Eisenhower?’” she reenacted. “’You drove around McArthur? Since he was with the general the big wigs came, and my dad knew him!’”
Despite the big names, Lt. Col. Lile is still just dad to his little girl, who’s all grown up.
“He skipped OU versus Texas game in either 1972 or 1973 he gave that up to watch me try out for eighth grade basketball cheerleader.
The Patriot Guard Riders of Oklahoma escorted the family to Memorial Park for the military burial.
Dawn was moved by the PGR’s dedication to honoring her father.
“That they (the PGR) reach back to all those old guys and there is so few of them left and now there is one less, and they came and they honored him today and it was my honor they were there,” said Dawn.