Last Known Activity VICTORIA - Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Lawrence Taylor Biehunko, 89, born in Moulton, and formerly of Victoria, passed away Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010. He was born June 18, 1921, to the late Frank and Ernestine Koenig Biehunko. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps at Randolph Air Force Base as a private in 1940. During his 23 years Col. Biehunko accumulated 8500 hours flying time and flew 31 different military aircraft. In 1962 he retired and returned to his hometown of Moulton and went into the insurance business with his father and remained active in the insurance business for over 33 years. He was a member of the Moulton American Legion, VFW, and Moulton Chamber of Commerce in which he served as the first president. He was also a member of the Moulton Volunteer Fire Department and served as secretary for the Moulton Community Development Corporation when it was organized in the 1960s. One of his accomplishments as secretary was establishing a new post office for Moulton. Lt. Colonel Biehunko was honored as citizen of the year in Moulton in 1998 and received the Community Builders award from the Moulton Masonic Lodge. He was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church and former member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Moulton for over 45 years. Lt. Colonel was a mentor to many young men and women.
In 1947, while testing an aircraft at the air proving school he developed engine fire in the plane which caused the whole crew to bail out into the Gulf of Mexico. After treading water without a may west for over thirty minutes, he was picked up by a fishing boat. Four of his crew members drowned. He was made a member of the Caterpillar Club because of an emergency parachute jump from the burning aircraft. That same year, Lt. Colonel Biehunko was elevated to Senior Pilot Rating and assigned to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, as a propulsion and assembly officer on the Matador Missile Project, and as a pilot of a T-33 and F-86 chase plane on the Matador Missile. While there he was checked out in the F-86 by General Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier. In 1950 the Matador Missile Project moved to Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, where Colonial Biehunko flew the F-86 chase plane at Cape Canaveral, Florida. In 1952 while flying the F-86 Fighter his aircraft developed engine trouble going into a flat spin. He managed to regain control of the aircraft and crash landed at Cape Canaveral. Lt. Colonel Biehunko was later assigned to Columbus Air Force Base Mississippi as a B-52 Aircraft Commander with the Strategic Air Command, and then as a commander of the Command Post at Columbus, Mississippi. He retired as a project officer of the 2nd Airborne Command Post in Barksdale Air Force Louisiana.
He is survived by his wife, Leona Malec Biehunko of Schulenburg; sons, Terry Biehunko and wife, Becca, of Southlake, Michael Biehunko and wife, Angie, of Victoria; and five grandchildren, Kelly Biehunko, Airman Clayton Biehunko, Jack Taylor Biehunko, Elizabeth Biehunko and Sarah Biehunko.
In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his brother, Lt. Ernest "Buddy" Biehunko, who followed his brother's footsteps becoming a pilot in the United States Air Force but was tragically killed in 1961 in California while piloting his F-106 Fighter Jet.
Lt. Colonel Biehunko will lie in state at Rosewood Funeral Chapels Saturday, Aug. 22, 2010, starting at 10 a.m. The family will receive friends at Rosewood from 5-7 p.m.
Lt. Colonel Biehunko will lie in state at Smith Funeral Home in Moulton beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010. The family will receive friends at Smith Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. Sunday evening.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23, 2010, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Moulton, Rev. David Berger officiating. Burial with full military honors provided by the United States Air Force Honor Guard will follow at the Moulton City Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be General James Freytag, General Robert Biehunko, Chris Bludau, Thomas H. Hoyer, Joe Sullivan, Ervin Patek, Albert Pozzi, and Adolph Welfel.
Honorary pallbearers will be Hank Furrah, Kathleen Chovanetz, Bobby Olle, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Newton, Mr. and Mrs. Hank Furrh, Al Fojtik, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Fisbeck, Mrs. Minnie Lee Fisbeck, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Pilat, Mr. Larry Finch, Clarence Walker, Patsy Mikulencak, Dolores Grieve, Doris Lala, Bobby and Kelly Moller.
The family would like to extend their sincere appreciation to Dolores Grieve and the Regency Nursing Home staff for all the love and support given in their time of need, to Dr. Susan Kraemer for her kind devotion and care, and to Hospice of South Texas for their tremendous support.
Memorials may be made to the Moulton Volunteer Fire Department or Hospice of South Texas.
Words of comfort may be shared with the family at rosewoodfuneralchapel.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Rosewood Funeral Chapels, Victoria, 361-573-4546.
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the military aviation arm of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. The statutory administrative forerunner of the United States Air Force, it was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926 and part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps was the immediate predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), established on 20 June 1941. Although discontinued as an administrative echelon during World War II, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.
The Air Corps was renamed by the United States Congress largely as a compromise between the advocates of a separate air arm and those of the traditionalist Army high command who viewed the aviation arm as an auxiliary branch to support the ground forces. Although its members worked to promote the concept of air power and an autonomous air force between the years between the world wars, its primary purpose by Army policy remained support of ground forces rather than independent operations.
On 1 March 1935, still struggling with the issue of a separate air arm, the Army activated the General Headquarters Air Force for centralized control of aviation combat units within the continental United States, separate from but coordinate with the Air Corps. The separation of the Air Corps from control of its combat units caused problems of unity of command that became more acute as the Air Corps enlarged in preparation for World War II. This was resolved by the creation of the Army Air Forces (AAF), making both organizations subordinate to the new higher echelon.
The Air Corps ceased to have an administrative structure after 9 March 1942, but as "the permanent statutory organization of the air arm, and the principal component of the Army Air Forces," the overwhelming majority of personnel assigned to the AAF were members of the Air Corps.