Joseph Clarence Hedrick, Jr.
Joe "Magic" Hedrick, a graduate
of the Class of 1968 lived an enviable and remarkable life that was
shortened by a tragic blood disease he experienced earlier this year
(myelo dysplasia). Joe used his many gifts during his life to entertain,
to enrich, and to spiritually strengthen others from all walks of life.
Following his graduation, Joe served five tours in Southeast Asia fixing
over 150 missions as a B-52D Radar Navigator crewmember. He learned
the art of magic from books given to him by other crewmembers, and would
read the books on long bombing flights. His flight suit pockets were
usually stuffed with sponge balls, silk scarves, etc. Without formal
training, he was able to later become a fine magician. With his gift
of magic, Joe entertained audiences in schools, hospitals, children's
homes, churches, corporate groups, and many others over the course of
his life. From time to time he even earned good fees (a "paid gig")
for his act. His daughter Joanna even after being sawed in half several
times or made to float atop a broom, was still cheerfully willing to
be his stage assistant. Joe's magic had a message, sometimes religious,
sometimes motivational, but always humorous and entertaining. He added
magic to his presentations when he was a national touring motivational
speaker. He lightened his real estate dealings with a bit of money magic,
and he enticed his students with a promise to show them a trick or two
if they paid attention in class. From his successful magic act, Joe
acquired the nickname "Magic," a name proudly displayed on
his real estate business card (Joe was a successful broker). He was
a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society
of American Magicians. In 1997, he won first place in the Sacramento
magic club's stand- up competition. Joe met his wife, Carol, during
NBT at Mather AFB. They were married 31 years and raised two children,
Joanna, a student, and Kahlil, a musician like his father. After returning
from Southeast Asia to March AFB, his next assignment was back to Mather
AFB as a UNT Instructor. He exited the Air Force in 1976 and began a
25-year real estate career. Although he was an Air Force Academy graduate,
Joe spent the greater part of his spare time not in the air, but at
the helm of a sailboat. He owned a Catalina 22 for more than 28 years
and for the last seven years moved up to an O'day 37 that was berthed
in San Francisco Bay. Every Friday was TG.I.F - L.G.S. Thank God It's
Friday - Let's Go Sailing! Joe became a Christian early in life, and
used his gift of music to play the banjo (again self-taught) and sing
with his many Christian friends. For mans years, Joe held many offices
in one of the Sacramento area Rotary clubs, and was an active member
of the community assisting in many projects to help the community These
activities were not enough, Joe also managed to acquire a 5th degree
Black Belt in Judo and a Black Belt in Jujitsu, an honor given only
to the most competent. Thankfully, Joe never had to use this skill to
injure anyone. Rather, Joe's life was marked by his compassion and love
for others - his family, his many friends, even strangers. He was frequently
able to share his faith with others and be a source of encouragement.
At his funeral many people testified to his generosity and unselfishness.
His patriotism and love of country were contagious, as though his Academy
graduation were but yesterday. Earlier this year when informed that
his illness would likely be fatal, Joe faced this challenge with dignity,
courage, and faith. His family and friends were taken by the fact that
even until the last, Joe's sense of humor and warmth for others never
waned. Joe Hedrick was confident of his destiny; understandably proud
of his loving family, and assured that he had left indelible signs of
a Christian life lived to the fullest. His assumptions were correct
in every respect. The void he left in death has been filled by fond
memories of his sense of humor, laughter, love of family, loyalty to
friends, and praise for God.
I was Joe Hedricks roomie in 22nd Squadron and together, when he found out I was moving to 30th to open our six new squadrons, we designed the original squadron patch for Dirty 30 it was later modified by the Academy but it was a beautiful patch.
Senior summer, Joe convinced me to come by his home in Aiken, SC and pick up an old Willis WWII Jeep and drive it back to the Academy for him. (I cannot recall why Joe could not do it himself) The bribe was a date with one of Joes beautiful sisters if id drive the Jeep. So, I talked Tony Robinson into going with me and together, we picked up the Jeep and began our long trek back to the Academy.
First night, in Cartersville, Ga, we ran over a piece of iron and had a double blow out on the rear wheels. This was but the first of many adventures along the way, culminating in our almost being arrested for an illegal U turn in Salina, Kansas after blowing the engine in the Jeep at 0200 in the morning. We were rescued by an ex-USAF police sergent who escorted Tony and I to the local airport where we spent the remainder of the night on the hood of the Jeep and caught the first flight out to C Springs.
Joe later picked up the Jeep, painted it pink, and drove it all our senior year. What a fond memory of a unique and great guy. I miss Joe just thinking about him and that Jeep.