Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lt. Col. Tony Bevacqua 1932-

Tony, son of a Sicilian immigrant, was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 7 October 1932. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the USAF on 29 February 1952. Tony began Aviation Cadet Pilot Training Program in January 1953, graduating on 14 April 1954, rated and commissioned the same day.
First assignment following fighter gunnery training was 508th Strategic Fighter Wing, Turner AFB, GA, flying the F-84G and F. The 508th was deactivated in 1956 and became the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, with RB-57D and U-2 aircraft. Tony checked out in the U-2 at Groom Lake (Area 51) in March of 1957.
The 4080th was moved to Laughlin AFB, TX in 1957, and moved again in 1963 to Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ.  After accumulating 1904.2 U2 flight hours, Tony reported to Air Command and Staff College, AL, leaving the U-2 program in the summer of 1965. Following ACSC, Bevacqua was assigned to Beale AFB, CA to fly the SR-71.  Tony Bevacqua retired from USAF as a Lt. Colonel at Beale AFB on 31 March 1973, with 738 hours in the SR-71.
Tony has spent the last 42 years, since his retirement from the Air Force in 1973, working continuously to support the mission of high altitude reconnaissance, the survival of Beale AFB as the anchor of such a mission, and publicizing the legends of Kelly Johnson’s favorite airplanes, the U-2 and SR-71. Bevacqua became a major liaison for the cities of Marysville and Yuba City with Beale AFB, becoming politically active in fighting for the future of Beale AFB during BRAC reviews, and serving as the Chairman of the Beale Liaison Military Committee for 18 of his 40+ years on the committee.
On June 8, 2013, Tony Bevacqua was awarded the Kelly Johnson Trophy at the 20th Blackbird Association reunion in Sparks, Nevada for his outstanding contributions to the Blackbird program. On October 16, 2013, Bevacqua was formally presented with the Kelly Johnson Trophy at the annual meeting of the Beale Military Liaison Committee.