Air Force Lt. Col. Bill McCowen, who died recently at the age of 93, was remembered at a luncheon attended by family, friends and fellow members of the Crispy Warriors, an informal group of local veterans. During his career, McCowen flew nearly 700 combat missions.

FORT WALTON BEACH – Members of the Crispy Warriors, an informal group of area veterans, met recently to celebrate one of their own, who died Sept. 28 at the age of 93.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bill McCowen held the distinction of having flown the most combat missions of any American pilot in U.S. military history. Records show that McCowen flew 697 missions during his service, which included World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.

McCowen flew B-52 and B-47 bombers for the Strategic Air Command, and also flew the B-29 Superfortress bomber and the C-123 military transport aircraft.

The Crispy Warriors joined family and friends of McCowen for an Oct. 12 luncheon at the Magnolia Grill, remembering him as a “true American hero.”

Luncheon attendees also took time to remember McCowen’s late wife, Beverly, who died in 2011. During their life together after McCowen’s military service, Beverly McCowen helped her husband establish and operate McCowen Homes Inc., a residential construction company that built more than 500 homes in the area.

Among the family members attending the luncheon was the McCowens’ son, Clint, who told the crowd, “Dad never sought greatness, but only goodness. However, greatness was thrust upon him during World War II, Korea and Vietnam, enduring 697 combat missions.”