February 24, 1918 - June 22, 2023
The following tribute to this wonderful man comes from his daughter, Sherri.
Orval Prevost was born February 24, 1918, in Phillips, Oklahoma. He was the eldest of four children born to Frank and Ethel Prevost. Frank worked in the coal mines in Oklahoma, but in 1929, the family moved to Northern California, settling in Antioch. He graduated from Antioch High School in 1936 and then attended UC Berkeley for one year.
In 1941, Orval enlisted in the Army Air Corp and was trained on several aircraft, ultimately ending up on the B-17. As he was waiting in Chicago to embark for the European Theater, the war ended there. He was then sent to Biloxi, Mississippi, to train on Search and Rescue with the B-17. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and moved back to Antioch, California.
Wedding bells rang in 1942 for Orval when he married his best friend’s sister, Florence. Orval and Florence lived apart much of the time during the first few years of their marriage because of Orval’s commitment to the Army Air Corp. But after the war, in 1946, together they started the Antioch Airport, which they owned for a couple years, and lived on the airport property in a 16’ travel trailer. In 1947, while living at the airport, their daughter, Sharon, was born.
Between 1949 and 1951, the family lived in Chico, California, and then in Bakersfield, California, where Orval served as a flight instructor. Using the GI Bill to obtain any possible flight licenses and type ratings, including a Sea Plane rating, plus already having a 4-engine rating from the B-17, in 1951 Flying Tiger Line hired Orval.
He was a pilot for Flying Tiger Line for 27 years . . . from 1951 until his retirement in 1978, based first at Burbank Airport and then at LAX. Orval absolutely loved flying for the Tigers. It was his “dream job.” (At left, Orval with Tom Constable in the cockpit of a DC8) The stories he could relay about his adventures on flights were awesome. He used to tell the story about when he was flying a load of monkeys and some of them got loose in the airplane. Orval said he leaned over in the cockpit to get something out of his flight kit, and a monkey reached up and shook his hand!
After his retirement from the Tigers, Orval and Florence remained in Southern California for several more years. They traveled extensively and enjoyed spending time with their daughter and son-in-law, and their two granddaughters. In the mid-1990s, they moved back to northern California, to their roots in the Antioch area.
Sadly, Florence passed away in 1995. A year later, Orval married his second wife, Shirlee, and they lived in Magalia, California, which is near Chico. Orval and Shirlee were married for 12 years, at which time Shirlee passed. Orval remained in Magalia for three more years and then, with his family’s encouragement, moved into an independent-living facility in Walnut Creek, California (at left with his good friend late in life, former FTL pilot Tim Seitz.) He was there for 11 years until December 2022, when he finally moved into an assisted-living facility in Southern California to be close to his extended family.
Orval’s “last hurrah” was attending the FTL reunion in San Diego for just a few hours on Memorial Day weekend 2023. He had a blast and couldn’t stop talking about it. Everyone at the reunion was so kind to Orval and his extended family. We, as a family, are grateful we were able to get him there. Thank you all for making it such a special occasion for Orval.
Orval with Menalee and Tom Pierchala and FTLPA President John Dickson.
Orval was Tom's sponsor and mentor at Flying Tigers.
Senior Captains George Gewehr (L) and Bob Baird (R) sharing very old stories
FTLPA Secretary, Leigh-lu Prasse, with Orval
Former FTL Stewardess Jan Ross Carerre, 94, with Orval.
A wonderful 199 years between them!
For even more pictures of Orval with his friends, both new and old, at the San Diego Reunion click HERE and scroll down to the bottom section titled Captain Orval Prevost
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