Whiteman AFB, Mo. – Lt. Col. Mary C. Fuller, a former squadron commander and long-serving Missouri Wing staff member, who touched many lives with her generous nature in her long CAP career, passed away suddenly on April 13, 2020. She had served most recently for several years as the Missouri Wing Chief of Staff for Support.
A member of Civil Air Patrol for over 31 years, Lt. Col. Fuller joined CAP to be with her husband and three sons who were already members of the River City Composite Squadron in Fenton, Missouri, eventually serving as squadron commander. For many years, the Fuller family functioned as a complete ground team and participated in multiple ELT (emergency locator beacons used by aircraft in distress) and disaster relief emergency services missions – once responding to four ELT missions in a 24-hour period.
Lt. Col. Fuller served with distinction in multiple wing staff positions, most notably as wing administrative and personnel officer for many years, and as the Directorate of Operations’ administrative officer overseeing aircrew billing and the deciphering of flight log scribblings – where Missouri Wing administrator, Todd Kirkendall, noted her accuracy was unmatched. She also served for many years on the wing finance committee, and oversaw the activities of the wing award and promotion review boards. Additionally, she used her expertise to advise and evaluate the effectiveness of units as a member of the wing’s subordinate unit inspection team. At the time of her death, she was serving as the Missouri Wing Chief of Staff for Support, overseeing twelve wing directorates.
Lt. Col. Fuller’s CAP awards were numerous and include multiple Find and Disaster Relief Ribbons, multiple Commanders Commendations, the Brigadier General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager Aerospace Education Achievement Award, the Benjamin O. Davis Award, the Grover Loening Aerospace Award, the Paul E. Garber Award, the U.S. Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and recognition with her husband with Missouri Wing’s John E. Otradovec Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. She held a specialty track senior rating in professional development; as well as master ratings in finance, administration, and personnel.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Lt. Col. Fuller obtained her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and taught for several years as an elementary school teacher. She was married for almost 53 years to Lt. Col. Randy Fuller, former Missouri Wing emergency services officer and current commander of the Missouri Wing Legislative Squadron. Their three sons are all involved in aerospace: oldest son, Sean, is a former Spaatz Cadet and current Major in the Texas Wing, who just completed several years in Russia as NASA’s Director of Human Space Flight Programs for the International Space Station and is now the International Partner Manager for NASA’s Gateway Program paving the way to Mars; middle son, Kurt, is the V-22 Vice President and Program Manager for Bell; and youngest son, Chad, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and currently serves as a Lt. Col. and F-16 instructor pilot with the Colorado Air National Guard. She is also survived by seven grandchildren.
“Mary has been an inspiration to me from the very first time I met her. Her wealth of knowledge and dedication to Civil Air Patrol immediately made her my ‘go to’ person when I had questions or seeking advice,” said Col. Thomas Martin, Missouri Wing commander. “Her contributions have left an everlasting mark on me and countless others in CAP across the wing and region. She will truly be missed.”
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date following resolution of the current coronavirus pandemic. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made to a charity of choice in her name, to Wreaths Across America, or to Missouri Wing’s Gerald Holliday Cadet Endowment Fund.