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Thunderbirds honored twin brothers with Air Force flyover as last members of the original team

Throughout their military career, the Pattillo brothers were on parallel tracks, even in retirement, choosing to live near each other in central Virginia.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Twin brothers who were founding members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds squadron were honored at the Arlington National Cemetery in a rare inurnment ceremony Wednesday. Lieutenant General Charles "Buck" Pattillo and Major General Cuthbert "Bill" Pattillo were the last members of the original thunderbird team to pass away in 2019 and 2014, respectively. 

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds conducted a flyover salute to honor the brothers, with full military honors by the Air Force Honor Guard.

Throughout their military career, the Pattillo brothers were on parallel tracks, even in retirement, choosing to live near each other in central Virginia. The brothers also decided to spend their afterlife side by side and held off entering the Arlington National Cemetery until both twins and their wives passed away. All four will be inurned together. 

Credit: Pattillo's family


"It was always their dream to be buried side by side," said Scott Pattillo, Buck's son, also a retired Air Force fighter pilot.

Despite the twins' memorable achievements, the two were also founding members of the great aerobatic team, Skyblazers, which were the display team that inspired the creation of most of the European aerobatic teams in the 1950s.

As the twins were a part of Thunderbirds in 1953 and 1954, they flew left- and right-wing positions and helped create many of the maneuvers still being used today, including the famous "Bomb Burst" finale. The Pattillo brothers flew with Chuck Yeager during the Thunderbirds' first international trip.

The ceremony corresponds with the week-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the United States Airforce.

Credit: Pattillo's family

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