In Memoriam

Joe Hedrick

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.
Joe Hedrick's Three Fundamental Principles for Happiness:
1. The grass is not greener on the other side - you must fertilize what you have.
2. Don't worry about things you can't control. All you can do is all you can do.
3. You alone are responsible for your own happiness.
(Talmadge Jones, Sacramento Superior Court Judge)

I was Joe Hedrick’s 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 Joe’s beautiful sisters if i’d 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.

Alan Price

Return to In Memoriam