EAST TAWAS, Mich. – A number of military generals from Michigan have risen to the call of duty. But one Air Force general shines unlike anyone else who have commanded troops on-and-off the battle field.
“I always wanted a military career,” said Earl Terrence O’Loughlin whose military career lasted 37 years. “I had three combat tours in my life,” said O’Loughlin, “all of them exciting.”
O’Loughlin remembers the planes flying overhead as a young boy in East Tawas. “There was a lot of airborne activity around town…and I thought, man, that’s what I want to do,” he said, “if I could get in, I decided I wanted to fly them damned airplanes.” That’s when life began to take flight.
“What he did for this country was just so amazing,” said O’Loughlin’s wife, Thelma O’Loughlin. “He started as an enlisted man and ended as a four star general.”
From brigadier, to major, to lieutenant — and now Michigan’s only and retired four star general.
The general said, “it was a rewarding experience, not just the promotions,” as he sat comfortably on the couch in his East Tawas home.
O’Loughlin said he put the nation’s needs over his own needs and family needs. “Without a doubt,” he said. “My wife knew what my priority was. It was my job, and the family was maybe second or third.” He said he cares deeply for America’s protection and service members.
O’Loughlin said he dedicated his life to serving, and with that he said, “not everybody is born a leader.”
America’s war hero retired at the age of 57 and said he’s had the career a man could only dream of. “I’m one of the luckiest guys that ever walked the earth to be honest with you.”
The retired four star commander is 88 years old now, kind-spirited and full of life. He has four married kids, 10 grand-kids and five great-grandchildren.
When O’Loughlin’s high school sweetheart, Shirley O’Loughlin, passed away, he remarried and committed his life to longtime friend Thelma O’Loughlin.
With excitement and tears forming in her eyes, Thelma said her marriage to O’Loughlin has been wonderful. “My late husband….looked up to Earl so much,” she said. “Earl’s late wife was such a good person.”
The hearts of millions will forever bear the legacy of Michigan’s only four star general.
“I didn’t feel like I was used up at 57,” the general said with smiles across his face. “You wait until you get there.”