American Flags and West Virginia Flags to fly at half-staff Monday, September 26th in the state of West Virginia in honor of Colonel Ralph Dayton Albertazzie.
According to the office of the governor:
Albertazzie graduated from Morgantown High School and attended West Virginia University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps, which later became the United States Air Force. Albertazzie served for 30 years and through his distinguished service achieved the rank of Colonel. He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, flying 17 combat missions and 75 combat support missions in Vietnam.
In 1968, Albertazzie was named Commander of Air Force One, serving under President Richard M. Nixon and serving until the resignation of President Nixon in 1974. During his service he piloted for former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1972 he flew President Nixon to the People’s Republic of China for the purpose of opening relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States, making Colonel Albertazzie the first American pilot to fly into Communist China.
After leaving the military in 1974, Albertazzie served as West Virginia Commissioner of Commerce under Gov. Arch Moore and in 1976 was a candidate for Governor of West Virginia. He later authored, “The Flying White House: The Story of Air Force One” and “Hostage One,” inspired by his years of piloting Air Force One. In addition, he owned several businesses in Martinsburg including the Panhandle ’76 truck stop and a television station.