Steven Willis Long, Jr.
Steven Willis Long, Jr., son of Stephen Willis Long and Sarah Ruth Simpson, was born Sept. 30, 1934, at 409 Eureka in Weatherford. He was a member of the First Baptist Church. While attending high school, he worked for Sharpe’s Grocery and delivered telegrams for Western Union. Steve graduated in 1952 from Weatherford High School.
He entered Texas A&M, participated in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, graduated with a B.S. in education and received his commission with the United States Air Force in January, 1957. Steve received the silver wings of an Air Force pilot at Laredo Air Base, Sept. 3, 1958. For advanced training in the
F-86L jet type aircraft, he was assigned to 3550 Combat Crew Training Wing, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. While in Georgia, he married Betty Sue Powell, March 14, 1959 in the First Baptist Church, Bainbridge.
Steve enjoyed a distinguished and varied 30 year career in the United States Air Force. He began as Flying Safety Officer with the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing in Iceland. By March 1968, he had completed his 100th combat mission over North Vietnam. He was a Captain serving as an F-105 Thunderchief tactical fighter pilot with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand. More than one-third of his missions were flown against heavily defended targets in the Hanoi area.
Steve’s assignments included the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing’s director of safety at Bitburg Air Base Germany and the Inspector General’s team in Weisbaden, Germany, from 1970-1972. He then reported to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, serving with the 49th Tactical Fight Wing, as an F-4 Phantom pilot. After Holloman, he graduated in mass communications from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. From 1975-78 he served on the faculty of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va. In 1978-79 Colonel Long served as DCM at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. In the 1980’s, Steve’s assignments included: Chief of Maintenance at Clark AFB in the Philippines, PACAF Headquarters at Hickam AFB Hawaii, and the 12th Air Force Headquarters at Bergstrom AFB.
Steve retired from the Air Force with 30 years of service in July of 1987. He immediately went to work for General Dynamics and eventually Lockheed Martin. He worked in Fort Worth and in Bahrain as a logistical liaison. His second retirement was in 1999 and then he went to work closer to home.
Steve has been an active member of Acton Baptist Church. He has served as a Sunday School teacher and a deacon. He loved participating in mission work both locally and through Texas. He felt called to the Hood County jail ministry and Celebrate Recovery. Steve spent a lot of time writing letters and mailing Bibles to people he met through both programs. He never met a stranger and took any opportunity to share his belief and to gain new friends.
Steve Long’s physical body stopped in the early morning of February 28, 2019. His spirit continues, and his presence will endure forever in the legacy of his service and love and in the many lives he has touched. He was preceded in death by his parents; his son, Steven Willis Long III; and three sisters.
Survivors, wife Betty Long; daughter Sandra Tratos and husband Mark; grandsons, Mark Steven Tratos and wife Elizabeth, Daniel Michael Tratos, Matthew Robert Tratos and Steven Willis Long VI; daughter-in-law, Sue Evelyn Long; great grandchildren, Penelope Katharine Tratos and Simon Louis Tratos; and sister, Linda Thompson.
Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at Acton Baptist Church with interment in East Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Wiley Funeral Home.