Powell was born November 21, 1920 in the small coal-mining
town of Wilcoe, West Virginia. After graduating from Gary
High School in Gary, WV in 1938 (and becoming WV Golden Gloves
boxing champion), Powell attended West Virginia University.
He entered the US Army Air Corps in January 1942 and was
called to active duty as an Aviation Cadet in March. He received
his primary flight training at Oxnard, California in the
PT-13B Stearman aircraft.
Powell was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Pilot Officer
on Jan. 4 1943 and was transferred to England in April 1943
and assigned to RTU at Atham, UK April to August 1943 for
additional training in P-47s.
Powell was then assigned to the 352nd Fighter Group at Bodney,
East Anglia, UK in August, 1943 and flew 87 combat missions
with the 328th Squadron, 352nd including two combat tours
and 306 combat hours. Powell was credited with six enemy
aircraft destroyed, two probables and seven damaged (air
and ground) in support of ground forces before and after
D-Day. He flew two D-Day missions over Normandy.
In December 1944, Powell returned to the US and was assigned
to the Flight Test Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton,
Ohio. He separated from service in August 1945 and returned
to West Virginia University, where he earned a Bachelor of
Science degree in Journalism in 1947. Powell was the founder
of WVU’s Journaliers Society; and a member
of Mountain, an honorary men’s fraternity
After school, Powell was employed as a reporter/photographer
at the Roanoke, Virginia World News in July 1947. From there,
he was an Advertising Assistant for the Norfolk and Western
Railway in Roanoke, VA in January 1948, and became Asst.
Advertising Manager in Feb 1949.
Powell was recalled to active duty in the USAF in January
1950 and was sent to Korea to fly the P-51 Mustang in
July. He was then reassigned to Wright-Patterson AFB in September
1950 as Pilot for the Air Force Exhibit Group until 1952.
He separated from service in August 1954.
Powell’s many military awards include the Air Medal
with Three Oak Leaf Clusters; the Distinguished Flying Cross
with two Oak Leaf Clusters; the Presidential Unit Citation;
the ETO Medal with Four Battle Stars; the French D-Day Medal;
The Victory Medal and several campaign medals.
Powell is one of the founders of the 352nd Air Force Historical
Society and member of the first Board of Directors. He is
also a member of the Spitfire Society, the Silver Wings Fraternity
and the Order of Daedalians.
He and his wife, Betty, have been married 62 years and have
three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.