William Coulter Bailey
William Coulter Bailey
  • May 15, 1927 - September 13, 2017
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

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William Coulter Bailey, known to many as "Bill", 90, passed away peacefully, Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at home with family. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Elsie, sons Bradley of FL and wife Wendy, Michael and wife Gwen of Wake Forest, NC, and grandchildren Alexander, Nicholas, Lauren, Rebekah, Robert, Gabriel, Hannah and Naomi of Raleigh, NC and sister Dorothy Rhoades of Riverside, CA. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister Karen Jo Miller of Riverside, CA.
A native of Riverside, CA, and graduate of Riverside Polytechnic High School, 1945, he was a captain in the ROTC when a senior and joined the US Coast Guard during WWII. After WWII, he attended Riverside College and entered the naval cadet V-5 program. In 1947, Bill entered Naval Flight Training at Pensacola and received his Navy Wings in December of 1949. Midshipman Bill Bailey, reported to Attack Squadron 115 at North Island, CA. In July 1950, the squadron embarked the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea (CVA-47), flagship of Task Force 77. At the age of 23, he had made over 30 combat missions flying Skyraider dive-bombers (A-1). He then volunteered for Attack Squadron 923, "Spirit of St Louis" that had been activated and assigned to the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31).
During the thirteen months and two deployments, he was shot down three times. "Upon my return to the Bon Homme Richard, I found it was somewhat difficult to believe I was back aboard. I was thankful for my rescue. My thoughts kept going back to the prayer I had said while submerged. It is still in my heart and mind. I now fully realize the peace of mind associated with prayer to our Lord and the strength it provides us."
Following Korea, he graduated from University of California- Berkeley and Naval Post-Graduate School.
Commander Bailey and family, came to Raleigh, after completing three tours in Vietnam. He was assistant air officer aboard the super carrier USS Ranger (CVA-61) and officer in charge of a dive bomber squadron operating with the Vietnamese Air Force. Following his retirement in 1969, he joined Eastern Airlines and worked for seventeen years until 1987. Bill and Elsie enjoyed golf at North Ridge and Wildwood through the years together, gardening and travel. He was a member of the Retired Officers Association, Navy League, Rotary, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Flying Midshipman, Chosin Few, Raleigh Executive Club and participated in the Senior Games Track & Field.
The family will receive guests on Sunday, September 17 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m., Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, 1701 E. Millbrook Road, Raleigh. A service will be held at the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Monday, September 18 at 1 p.m. Burial will immediately follow. Donations in his memory may be made to Shriners Hospital, Tampa, FL or Salvation Army. Condolences may be sent through Transitions and www.brownwynne.com.