Retired Colonel Richard H. (Dick) Prater, loving husband and devoted father, passed away on October 17, 2021. Dick was born in Catlettsburg, KY on December 5, 1932. He enlisted in the US Air Force out of high school in 1950, and then received an appointment to West Point in 1951. He graduated four years later with the class of 1955.
Following graduation, Dick earned his pilot's wings at Greenville AFB, MS and was then assigned to Foster AFB, TX, where he flew F-100s until they closed the base in 1958. At that time he applied to the Air Force Academy for a teaching position, and after being accepted, went to the University of Colorado to obtain a Masters degree in Physics through the Air Force Institute of Technology program. He then served in both the Math and Physics Dept as an instructor and Assistant Professor of Physics from 1960 until his departure in 1965.
Following three months of training in the C-130, Dick was assigned to the 817th Tactical Airlift Squadron in Naha AB Okinawa as an Aircraft Commander. During his 21/2 year stay there he served more than 400 days in Southeast Asia and flew 800-plus combat hours in Viet Nam and Laos.
After returning to the US in June of 1968, Dick was assigned to the Air Force Avionics Lab as Assistant Division Chief of the Electronic Technology Division and later as Branch Chief of the Passive ECM Branch, where he supervised forty senior scientists and a two million dollar budget. During this time, he was promoted to Lt. Col. and selected to attend the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, AL in 1973. Following is graduation with the class of 1974, he received orders to Osan AB Korea where he served as Chief of Exercises, Air Forces Korea until 1975.
Having already been selected to join the faculty of the Air War College, Dick returned to Maxwell AFB in June of 1975. He was promoted to Colonel in 1976 and became Chief, Defense Management Systems, Department of Leadership and Management, with the responsibility of developing the curriculum for 260 senior officers, describing the Department of Defense resource allocation system.
Dick completed his distinguished military career when he retired in August of 1978. He was a command pilot with over 3200 flying hours. His military decorations included the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation emblem and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon.
Dick elected, upon retirement, to enter the financial planning business. Over the next four years, he worked with USPA-IRA (now First Command), EF Hutton, and lastly as Vice President of T. Ramon Perdue Associates. In 1982, he returned to the Research and Development business, joining the research faculty of the Georgia Tech Research Institute as a Senior Research Scientist. During his eleven years with Georgia Tech, he was a major contributor in the design, development, and management of several multi-million dollar threat radar simulator programs for the Air Force and Army. Dick retired from Georgia Tech in January of 1993 and moved to Ft Walton Beach in March of that year.
Dick was a member of the Shalimar United Methodist Church where he sang in the chancel choir and also with the Barbershop ensemble, Gloryland. He was a member of the Order of Daedalions, Military Officers Association, the Association of Old Crows, and the Air Force Association.
Dick was preceded in death by his father, Burnice, his mother, Helen, and his brother, Robert. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his sister, Lillian Smith; his daughter, Virginia Pate; his son, Richard H. Prater, Jr.; his daughter, Sandra Hudman; his son, Mark D. Prater; and eight grandchildren: Robert Patterson, Anna Hudman, Drew Hudman, Cole Prater, Madison Prater, Trinity Prater, Jessica Prater, and Fowler Prater.
Children also by marriage to wife Nancy: stepson Bobby McClure; stepdaughters Mitzi McClure, Kathy McClure, and Suzan Campbell; six grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be Saturday, October 23, 2021 at 1:00 PM at Emerald Coast Funeral Home. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Interment will be at Beal Memorial Cemetery, Ft Walton Beach, FL.
A Celebration of Life will be at a later date. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity in honor of Dick Prater.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com