COL. JOSEPH J. SOFET (USAF Retired)
SOFET, Joseph Colonel Joseph J. Sofet, 90, of
Atlanta, Air Force One pilot for President John
F. Kennedy, died August 8, 2009 following a
brief illness. He was born February 2, 1919 in
Milford, NJ. Survivors include his wife of 61
years, Lillian M. Sofet; sister, Rose Felver; 6
children; 6 grandchildren and 1 great
grandchild. In lieu of flowers, the family
requests memorial donations to The
American Heart Association or Lions
International. A memorial service will be held
on Thursday August 13, 2009 at 2 o'clock at
Oglethorpe Hill. The family will receive friends
Wednesday evening from 6 until 8 o'clock at H.
M. Patterson & Son, Oglethorpe Hill, 4550
Peachtree Rd., Atlanta 30319.
Published in The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution on 8/11/2009
Lion Joe was a member of the Annandale
Lions Club for many years, and served as the Club's President
(King Lion) in 1975-76.
Joe's commitment to service to others
exemplified the Lions motto ("We Serve"), and his stories of his
service to country and flying Air Force One were entertaining
and inspirational. He participated in the history of our
great nation, and we will miss him.
Pilot of Presidents, Joseph J. Sofet, Dies
Atlanta, GA - Joseph J. Sofet, retired u.s.
Air Force Colonel, who was the only remaining Air Force One
pilot for President John F. Kennedy, has died at the age of 90.
Sofet died peacefully, surrounded by family at Joseph's hospital
Saturday night in Sandy Springs, GA.
Col. Sofet served as Presidential Pilot for
both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations and had the
distinction of flying five U.S. Presidents at least once. But
Kennedy was Sofet's favorite and he often swapped cigars with
the president during flights. No flight was sadder for him than
the one from Dallas to Washington as he piloted the number two
aircraft and followed Air Force One as it carried Kennedy's
body. On November 22, 1963, he had watched Kennedy step from the
plane at Love Field, and then went to lunch with the crews. Upon
learning of the assassination, the crews immediately returned to
Air Force One, where Sofet helped remove part of a bulkhead to
make room for the President's casket. Later that day, he stood
aboard Air Force One, right beside the photographer who snapped
the photo of Johnson, with Jackie Kennedy by his side, taking
the oath of office.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1966
with over 14,000 flight hours, Col. Sofet enjoyed a successful
second career as a stock broker and financial consultant. Sofet
is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Lillian Sofet of
Atlanta, his six children, Anne Sofet of Herndon, Virginia,
Joseph Sofet of Atlanta, Georgia, Susan Sofet-Watts of Manteo,
North Carolina, Joan Sofet of Melboume, Florida, David Sofet of
Kennesaw, Georgia, and Merrie Sofet of Indialantic, Florida,
seven grand children and great-grand children.
Memorial Services were held in Atlanta, and
Col. Sofet will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a
later date. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that
donations be made to the American Heart Association and Lions
A Brief Biography of Colonel Joseph J. Sofet
Colonel Joe Sofet, Air Force One Pilot for
President John F. Kenned "began his aviation career at the age
of 17 flying a Piper Cub from a grass field in Easton,
Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps after
Pearl Harbor and spent the next 24 years as a pilot in the U. S.
Air Force. Col. Sofet held many leadership positions in the
Military Airlift Command including flight examiner, chief pilot
and operations officer for various units, and then served as
Chief Pilot of the Jet Squadron of Special Air Missions in
Washington, D.C. flying Heads of State, Military Brass, Foreign
leaders and other dignitaries. At the age of 42, he became
one of the three pilots chosen to fly Air Force One for
President Kennedy and served as a Presidential Pilot for both
the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. During his career, Col.
Sofet had the distinction of flying five U.S. Presidents at
least once. He retired from the Air Force in 1966 with
over 14,000 flight hours, and his awards included the Air Medal,
the Presidential Service Badge, numerous individual honors from
from foreign governments including Peru and Morocco, the
Military Air Transport System Diamond Pin for over 10,000
accident free flying hours, and many more flying safety awards
and honors. After retiring from the Air Force, Col. Sofet
enjoyed a successful second career as a stock broker and