The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 2, 2013

Last of WWII flying ace brothers dies at age 92

JOHNSTOWN — Lt. Col. John B. Coffey – the last of a trio of World War II flying ace brothers – has died.

The former Johnstown man was 92, his obituary said.

A former Franklin High School student, Coffey joined the Army Air Corps alongside his two brothers, one of whom later briefly served as the Johnstown area’s congressman.

Coffey flew 35 B-17 missions in the war’s European theater. He became a lead navigator during that time, guiding a squadron of as many as 40 bombers to targets and attack points, his obituary said.

Both of his brothers died in airplane crashes – his younger brother, William, during the war and his older brother, Col. Robert Coffey, four years after the war ended. A then-recently elected U.S. congressman, Robert Coffey died in a jet training mission with the Air Force Reserve in 1949.

John Coffey settled in Florida, where he returned after serving in the Korean War, during part of what became several decades of military service.

While in Florida, he became a farmer and also became active in public service, serving eight years as a Glades County commissioner, his obituary said.

His mother, Curry Brindley Coffey, a longtime Ferndale resident, lived most of her 100 years in the Johnstown area before her death in 1995.

Coffey is survived by three sons and their families.

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