Colonel William H. McChesney

Colonel William H. McChesney, 95, formerly of Widnoon, PA, and recently of Brookville, PA, passed away peacefully on April 23, 2017 after a brief illness.

He was born in 1922 in Chicago, IL, to William and Emily (Newman) McChesney, and his parents returned to their native Pittsburgh soon after.

William graduated from Peabody High School in 1940 and enrolled in Westminster College.

After the start of World War II, he volunteered for the US Army Air Corps and was trained as a P-47 fighter pilot.

He was then deployed to North Africa and then to England with the 365th Fighter Group. From February to August 1944 he flew 70 combat missions, including two on D-Day.

On August 25, 1944, his plane was shot down over Dijon, France. Colonel McChesney was captured by German troops and held for seven days before escaping and making contact with the French Underground, who for three weeks guided him across France to the safety of the American lines.

Colonel McChesney was highly decorated and his medals included three Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars, seven Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross. France also awarded him their highest national honor, the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

Bill returned home, graduated from Westminster College and married the love of his life, Betty Womer, of Eldred, PA.

Their blessed union lasted 54 years and bore them sons, William (Diane) and Scott (Kathy), daughter, Lane (Gene), five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife and his brother and best friend, Colonel Robert N. McChesney, USAF.

Colonel McChesney remained active in the US Air Force Reserve and, in addition to working in the home building business and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, was elected Penn Hills Commissioner.

Bill raised beef cattle on his farm in Widnoon and, along with his wife, enjoyed a quiet retirement.

He was a devout Episcopalian and a member of St. Mary’s Church in Redbank, PA. William has gone home to the Lord.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Online condolences can be made at

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