Walter B. “Tex” Badger, Major, USAF (Retired), taxied into position for take off on the Runway of Life, released the brakes, lit the afterburner and climbed out on his final flight on September 26.
He was born May 4, 1924 in Austin, Texas, to Kathryn Brooks and Walter H. Badger.
Following graduation from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, receiving his pilot wings and commission as a Second Lieutenant in December, 1943. Tex was a combat pilot flying both bomber and fighter aircraft out of England with the Eighth and Ninth Air Force and participated in the Invasion on D-Day in 1944. On his return to the U.S., he attended an engineering program in conjunction with the University of Illinois, graduating in 1945. He also graduated from the USAF Air University Air Tactical School and USAF Fighter Weapons School. He was assigned to a fighter group bound for the Pacific Theater when the war with Japan ended. He joined a fighter group in Germany during the occupation. In 1947 he received a regular commission in the USAAF and was selected to help reactivate the 4th Fighter Group (Eagle Squadron of World War II) at Andrews Field, Maryland. This group was the first USAF fighter group to receive the new P-80 jet fighter and a year later the swept wing F-86. Tex was a member of the six-man Silver Sabre aerial demonstration team, which was the forerunner of today’s Air Force Thunderbirds.
During the Korean War, Tex flew 126 combat missions with the 49th Fighter Group. Returning to the U.S. in 1951, he continued his association with several other fighter organizations and spent two years at the Air Proving Ground Command developing weapons for fighter aircraft. In 1963, after 21 years of service, he retired from the USAF at Beale AFB, CA.
Following retirement from the military, he continued his love of flying. He worked as a test pilot with Mooney Aircraft in Kerrville, TX, before joining a Piper Aircraft distributor in San Antonio, TX. In 1971 he became associated with ADI, the Piper distributor in Kansas City, where he worked as a sales manager for two states. It was during this time that he met and married his “once in a Lifetime Love,” Nancy Woods Wickersham, who was the Piper aircraft dealer in Columbia. He and Nancy had a merger as well as a marriage, merging kids, households, cars, and airplanes in Columbia.
After a second retirement from Piper distribution, he joined an associate to form a company buying and selling corporate-type aircraft. The company was located in the Texas Hill Country, where he and Nancy moved and spent 11 years in Marble Falls. The company was later re-located to Knoxville, TN, and the Badgers returned to Columbia to operate a regional office.
As he had long promised Nancy, on his 75th birthday, Tex hung up his wings and quit flying after accumulating 20,500 hours of pilot time. He continued to represent the company until his final retirement.
Tex was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church, the USAF Order of Daedalians, the Military Officers Association, The Quiet Birdmen, the P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association, and the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association.
In addition to his wife, Nancy, Tex is survived by sons, Scott (Donna) and Jonathan, and daughter Susan Tassos, all of San Antonio, TX, and two stepchildren, Beth Bauman (Larry) of Lake Villa, IL and Andy Wickersham of Kansas City. Tex is also survived by eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
The family will receive visitors at Memorial Funeral Home on Friday, October 4, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. and a graveside military service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 5.
It is suggested that those who wish to memorialize Tex support the Virginia and Norm Stewart Cancer Center, Boone Hospital Foundation, 1600 East Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201.
Online tributes may be left at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.