Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

Paul E. Phillips

In Memoriam

January 31, 1945 - August 5, 2020

Below is the obituary for Paul from Brown & Sons Funeral Home.  Following that are words from good friends who knew him well.

Paul's Obituary

Paul E Phillips, 75, of Longboat Key Florida, passed away August 5, 2020 at Blake Medical Center. Born on January 31, 1945 in Melville, NY to Hector Phillips and Ethel (Mohr) Phillips. Paul graduated from Half Hollow Hills School District in 1962, where he played varsity football and then on a newly formed lacrosse team. He also belonged to the Spanish-National Honor Society. Paul graduated from Bowling Green University, where he played lacrosse and majored in International Studies. He is survived by his Brothers in Arms, Marines, friends he considered chosen family and he loved Caesar, his black labrador. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Not only was Paul Marine Corps Captain, he was also an Airline Captain. While on active duty he flew the A-4 Skyhawk in Vietnam. In December 1969 while flying a low level, high speed forward air controller mission he was shot down in the heavily defended Tchepone area in Laos. Although severely wounded he evaded for 72 hours. After many air strikes protecting him he was rescued by helicopter. After recuperating and leaving active duty he was hired as a pilot for the Flying Tiger Line in April 1973. He flew for 32 years, 20 years as Captain on five different aircraft. The Flying Tiger line was taken over by FDX in 1989 and Paul continued flying for FDX until his retirement in 2004. Paul was known for his love of Ferrari's starting with a Dino in 1974, Having a Ferrari with a Purple Heart plate is not a normal occurrence. He was always larger than life, a quick wit, love of life and inner strength. Paul was a member of the Bradenton Country Club and an avid New York Giants fan. Honor Guard Services will be scheduled for Sarasota National Cemetery in a short while. Arrangements by Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory, 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34209. Private condolences may be made to

From Frank Maguire

Paul was a Marine Combat Pilot who did his job without hesitation. He was shot down on a mission over Laos that he volunteered for and, though badly injured, survived a night of escape and evasion in a very inhospitable jungle, followed a hair raising rescue in the morning. A classmate of Biggie's and mine at Tigers in 1973 he became a life long friend to both of us. As an Airline Pilot he taught by example, mentored the talented young pilots he met along the way, and was as proud of their career accomplishments as he was of his own. The careers of probably a dozen of today's 777 Captains began with Paul Phillips speaking up on their behalf. As MEC Vice Chairman for the last four years of Flying Tigers existence, Paul flawlessly ran the day to day affairs of the Flying Tiger MEC for the duration of the seniority arbitration and integration with FedEx, including the favorable T Day settlement of all outstanding FTL grievances, including two termination grievances that resulted in reinstatement with full back pay. The Flying Tiger pilots owe Paul Phillips a lot more than they ever imagined.

If he had a weakness it was for beautiful women and fast cars, but that was all part of the package. More to the point, he was a fearless warrior, an accomplished aviator, a talented manager, and a great friend. Above all, he was a man of substance and we were all fortunate to have been his friend.

RIP my friend.

From Bill Helbig

After showing up at the Hacienda  for new hire school in 73, Paul and i were stuck in the same room for over a week..My initial thoughts of him qualified him as UNIQUE...Most all in our class viewed him the same manner...UNIQUE..

He was funny, warm, full of life, big love for friends as well as being an intelligent, risk taking business man..
We were also flight engineer sim partners....What a hoot for me to be with him and watch his humor keep both of us rolling through the pipeline..
Our closeness as great friends has lasted throughout the years..A lot of great times around the world when our paths crossed...Always rockin...
My respect and admiration for him is immense...He was a Pilot's pilot, dedicated to our pilot fraternity..Memories will give me smiles and chuckles for the rest of my time..We liked to say ,  brothers by different mothers..And so it is, was and ever shall be..
Fair winds and blue skies my friend...
Bill Helbig

From Nicole Cott Ross:

I am sooooo saddened to hear of Paul’s passing.  I met Paul when I worked at FTL HQ in Los Angeles (1982-1987, responsible for IT systems-FltPlan, CrewMgmt, Wt/Bal, etc.).

I remember Paul as being a ton of fun, very smart, kind, industrious, generous and a  very proud American/Marine/Pilot.
After Paul graduated Bowling Green University, he enjoyed a lucrative career in the financial services industry.  Yet, Paul quit that lucrative career to enlist with the USMC and support US war efforts in Vietnam.  In Vietnam, his aircraft was shot down on two different occasions.  I asked him “what do you do when you are shot down, land in the middle of nowhere, with a newly busted knee?”.  Paul bravely responded with “I crawled on my belly, towards my rifle, picked it up and started shooting at the enemy”.  Paul earned 2 Purple Heart medals for his service in Vietnam. 
Paul sustained injuries during the Tet Offensive (a day before his 23 birthday) that finally brought him stateside.  Though he was a proven and respectable pilot, no commercial airline would hire him because of his injured knee.  No airline, but the Flying Tiger Line. While at FTL, Paul headed the Air Line Pilots Association where he continued fighting for pilots safety & benefits while re-negotiating pilot contracts. 
During my FTL employment, I dead-headed in many FTL cockpits. It seemed to me that everyone knew Captain Paul Phillips and those that knew him, loved him. 
Every time Paul and I flew to DC, we always went to the Vietnam War Wall memorial. And Paul always etched out his fallen comrade’s names (From the VN Wall) and sent it to the comrades family. Every time. 
This is sad news of a great guy that I will miss knowing that he is no longer on the planet with us.
Nicole Cott Ross (Nicole Cott at FTL)

From Ted Loubris:

Paul Phillips was a very special guy.  Marine pilot and a man who always smiled.  RIP.

From George Gewehr:

One thing about Paul was he didn’t blown his own horn. He was a humble guy and loved to have a good time. It was hard to hear of his flying west.

RIP Paul, Semper Fi,

Anyone wishing to contribute to this page with archived pictures or testimonials about Paul is encouraged to contact us at

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