Login to Claremont COURIER

Herbert Charles Macy: Veteran, HAM radio enthusiast

Distinguished veteran, HAM radio enthusiast

Herbert “Herb” Charles Macy, a longtime Claremont resident, died on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at his home in Prescott, Arizona after a long battle with COPD. He was 90.

He was born on August 12, 1925 in Lynnville, Iowa to Dole Sylvester Macy and Lydia Ethel Renaud, who died shortly after his birth. Dole was remarried to Hazel Norris, a professor and colleague at Penn Central College. 

Herb was raised by his grandparents, William and Hettie Almeda Macy, along with his great-aunts, Dole’s sisters Vera, Aletha and Ruth. Vera’s daughters Macy Jane and Jane were closer to siblings than first cousins. He grew up attending the Lynnville Iowa Friends Church and Sunday school and Lynnville Elementary, graduating from Lynnville High School on May 12, 1943.

He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on July 10, 1943 and was called to active duty on January 15, 1944. After basic training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, he attended radio school at Scott Field, Illinois and gunnery school at Fort Myers, Florida. He was put with a crew at Lincoln, Nebraska and then assigned to Remote Terminal Unit training with a crew at Clovis, New Mexico.

Staff Sergeant Herbert Charles Macy was deployed in May 1945 as part of a B-29 replacement crew and spent seven months overseas. He participated in 22 missions that included strategic strikes against Japanese mainland targets and mining of the Shimonoseki Straits, two prisoner-of-war missions and two search missions for a downed B-29. Notably and historically, he participated in the over-flight of the USS Missouri battleship in Tokyo Bay during the signing of the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. He was 20 years old.

Sgt. Macy was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters and an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon with two battle stars, one for the air offensive of Japan and one for service on the Eastern Mandates, better known as the Marshall Islands. He returned stateside on November 29, 1945 and was discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on January 29, 1946. He was a member of 20th Air Force, 9th Bomb Group, 313th Wing and 99th Squadron based on Tinian Island in the Marianas. He maintained a lifelong connection with members of this group.

After serving in the military, Mr. Macy graduated from University of Iowa on December 20, 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He obtained continuing education credits in Lean Six Sigma at George Washington University. He married his first wife, Joan Marie Holm, on August 13, 1950 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. She put him through college and they had two children, Lynne and Brian. After Joan’s tragic passing from cancer in 1989, Herb married Mary Lee Bovee on July 28, 1990 in California.

Mr. Macy was an engineer at General Dynamics in Pomona for 30 years and spent his working life in Claremont. He was very good at keeping his defense work secret. In later years, the family learned that he worked on the development of the Redeye man-portable surface-to-air missile system that used infrared homing to track its target. 

Herb loved radios from the time he was a small boy and built one of his first radios by hand. His hobby was fixing things, including old cars and radios.  As a HAM operator (W6VJA), he learned Morse code and used it all of his life. In Claremont, a tall tower and a transmitter the size of a small suitcase kept him in contact with Australia and other faraway places while his kids listened in on many a CQ, CQ call. Mr. Macy continued to attend roll calls and listen to his shortwave radios into his last years. 

“Herb was well known for the twinkle in his eyes, sneaky smile and unique sense of humor,” his family shared. “We are grateful for his long life and the time we spent with him.”

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lee Bovee Macy of Prescott, Arizona; his daughter and son-in-law, Lynne and Christopher Olson of Ellsworth, Wisconsin; his son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Marilyn Macy of Santa Ynez, California; and his grandchildren, Megan Slovyan, Erin Eakes, Braden Macy, Macy Olson and Tyler Olson. He also leaves his great-grandson Tyler Slovyan; nieces and nephews Macy Jane and Warren Jontz of Newton, Iowa, Jane and Doug Finch of Lincoln, California and Jody (Jontz) McCoy of Minnetonka, Minnesota as well as his special friend and high school classmate John Andrew Gertsma. Herb was preceded in death by his first wife Joan Marie Macy on December 7, 1989.

A Time of Remembrance and the interment for Herbert will be held on Saturday, October 10 at 11 a.m. at the Lynnville Friends Cemetery, followed by lunch and a period of fellowship at the Lynville Friends Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials have been designated in Herb’s name; the Pence-Reese Funeral Home in Newton has been entrusted with the arrangements.