Mechanicsburg, PA – Lieutenant Colonel Philip Martin McAtee, lately of Warner Robins, GA, died peacefully in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania on November 24, 2023.
Born on August 23, 1942, he was raised in Shrewsbury and Worcester, Massachusetts. Though he never returned there to live, his distinct regional accent never faded. This was to the great amusement of his family, who teasingly tried to imitate his speech but never succeeded.
The course of Colonel McAtee’s life was set when he learned to fly from the colorful father figures of Worcester Airport – they couldn’t tell he was then 14. Phil somehow worked his way past the age requirement of the prestigious American Flyers school to complete full instruments ratings. Commercial flight certification followed. Phil flew professionally from age 15 until the FAA learned his true age. Though his joy at Worcester Airport was curtailed, it did not end his endless love of flight.
Upon graduating from Shrewsbury High School, Phil was off to the University of Miami to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Aviation Management, and became an Air Force officer through the ROTC program. Colonel McAtee’s career meant he was deployed throughout the States and internationally, with the constant support of Connie, his wife. He managed aircraft squadrons throughout much of his career. In 1969 he was assigned to the South Vietnam Air Force Base in Udorn, Thailand. Following this deployment, he was stationed for five years at RAF Alconbury in England. In 1976 he was selected to be the first editor of Maintenance Magazine, at Norton AFB in California. He enjoyed this assignment, but was glad to return to his men and women in subsequent stations at Myrtle Beach AFB (SC), Langley AFB (VA), and Moody AFB (GA). Colonel McAtee retired at the end of this last assignment. A highlight of his military career was the opportunity to fly an F-16 aircraft.
After his Air Force retirement, Phil jumped back into action as the Program Manager and eventual Vice President for Lexes Associates, Inc., where his leadership, tutelage and inspiration were paramount in the development and fielding of multiple information management systems that are still utilized and highly praised by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy to this day. This 26-year second career was immensely fulfilling. His relationships with people throughout the company’s offices were important among them all. While there he mentored Trina Curry, who began as a young administrative assistant and rose to become Lexes HR Manager.
Colonel McAtee was a devout life-long Catholic. He served his community pre- and post-retirement working with Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the ecumenical food pantry in Warner Robins, GA.
Missing Phil McAtee most profoundly are his wife and constant love of 60 years, Connie McAtee of Mechanicsburg PA and his three children: Deborah McAtee Chasteen (Jeff), Patricia McAtee Lackey (Dean), and Robert McAtee (Miriam), as well as his grandchildren Alyson Murray (Sean O’Reilly), Andrew Murray (Colleen Vineer), and Alexander Murray, and Ryan and Dorothy McAtee. He counted Trina Curry as family, too.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 3 pm on Friday, December 1, 2023 in St. Theresa Catholic Church, 1300 Bridge St. New Cumberland, PA with the Rev. Matthew Cannon as Celebrant. Burial will be at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery.
Rather than sending flowers, the family requests that any kind donations be made to Doctors Without Borders. World Central Kitchen, or any organization that rescues and cares for animals.
To send messages of condolence to the family or for driving directions, please visit www.Parthemore.com.