Charles Wildon Hinton, 90, passed away Wednesday, May 30, 2018 surrounded by family and loved ones. Charlie, as he was known throughout his life, was born in Mt. Auburn, Illinois on August 28, 1927 to Luther and Erma Hinton, the oldest of four children. He graduated from Mt. Auburn High School in 1945, enrolled at the University of Illinois in the fall of that year, and was drafted into the Army Air Forces shortly thereafter. He returned to college after two years, and obtained a degree in Accounting from University of Illinois. He was recalled into the Active Duty Air Force, where he attended Flight School and graduated with the wings and rank of 2nd Lt. Navigator, after which he and his entire navigator class were sent to combat duty in Korea.
Upon arrival at Kunsan, Korea, K-8 in 1951, Charlie was assigned to the infamous 13th Bomb Squadron – The Grim Reapers. As navigator/bombardier, from the co-pilot seat he instructed pilots during night intruder missions, picking targets that included trains, trucks, rail yards, search lights and anti-aircraft batteries over North Korea. In his later years, Charlie authored and published “A Short Time in a Small War,” a book recounting stories of his 50 missions.
After returning from Korea, Charlie became a proficient over-water navigator flying large transport aircraft over the Artic, North Atlantic, Europe and North Africa. He was then assigned to St. Olaf College as an ROTC instructor, where he met the love of his life and future wife of 60 years, Lois Harriet Westling. They married in Milaca, Minnesota on August 23, 1958.
In addition to Charlie’s Korean War service, his military career highlights included recovering capsules over the Pacific returning from orbit with undercover photos during duty at Hickam AFB in Hawaii, supporting manned space programs, IBM missile tests and Gemini and Apollo tests from Patrick AFB, and ending his career positioning a camera plane in the South Pacific to photograph the re-entry of Apollo 11, the first men to walk on the moon.
Charlie’s 2nd career spanning 17 years was devoted to the health and nutrition of Brevard County senior citizens, and making the community of Satellite Beach a better place to live. He was Founder and Project Director of the Brevard Florida Senior Nutrition Program, now known as Seniors at Lunch, and Director of Meals on Wheels, where he was instrumental in obtaining the funds needed to build and operate the Brevard Community Kitchen on Rosa Jones Boulevard in Rockledge. As a citizen’s advocate, he supported local projects, served on and chaired the Satellite Beach Board of Adjustors and lobbied for his favorite local candidates. Many residents fondly recall “An Appeal to Voters to Save Our City,” which successfully righted certain wrongs occurring within the 2012 Satellite Beach City Council.
Charlie loved to spend time with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Even in his 90’s, he worked out regularly at the Patrick AFB gym and attended monthly meetings of the Great Decisions Discussion Group. An avid reader, he loved his many books and faithfully followed local, national and world news, often making his views known on the editorial pages of the Florida Today newspaper.
Charlie is survived by his wife, Lois, and four children, Kris Ann Kunz (Rick), Patti Woods (Rick), Brian Hinton (Kim) and Eric Hinton (Dede); grandchildren Rebecca, Justin, Joanna, Preston, John, Olivia, Joshua, James and Nicki; great grandchildren Ava, Caroline, Abigail, Brooklyn, Miles and Carson; brother Dean Hinton (Donna) and sister Lois Watson; he was predeceased by his mother and father, and brother Wayne Hinton.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at Beach Funeral Home Indian Harbor Beach at 2:00 PM. Charlie’s final resting place will be Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Daily Bread, Inc. at dailybread.org. Please sign the online guest book at beachfuneralhome.com.