Colonel Edward George Bulka, USAF, Retired
Edward George Bulka, Col. USAF, Ret., born May 15, 1930, to Lithuanian immigrants, Kajatanas and Ana Bulka, in Chicago, Illinois, died September 18, 2013, in Birmingham, Alabama. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 53 years, Norma Jean Chamlee Bulka, and his older brother, Ray.
Edd's early education was at Tilden Technical High School, and he graduated with a B.A. from DePaul University in Chicago. Upon graduating from DePaul, Edd joined the Air Force in 1951 as an Airman. After basic training, he was chosen to attend Officers Candidate School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. From OCS, he went through pilot training, ultimately flying 17 different types of aircraft, ranging from the T-6 through the supersonic F-106. He volunteered for Vietnam in 1969 in order to fly the A-1 Skyraider. Edd said flying the A-1 was actively flying, not just monitoring the sophisticated computer systems on the fighter jets. He flew a total of 214 combat missions. Edd made the Air Force his career and retired as a full Colonel with 32 years of service.
Edd's life was never dull. He was stationed at 20 bases including being Base Commander of Lackland Air Force Base from 1977-1979. While serving in Vietnam from 1969-1970, he was awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster. Edd said his Vietnam experience was the most satisfying of all in his career: the mission was meaningful, the camaraderie intense and real, and the close association with the Rangers was humbling. He admired them and often quoted their motto: "You have not lived until you have almost died." In Edd's words, "I have had a great ride…."
After retiring from the Air Force, Edd did not slow down. He worked in several small businesses, was very active in the Montgomery Lions Club, served as an officer of the Montgomery Ballet, the Southeast Regional Ballet Association, and the VFW. Edd loved to play golf and enjoyed his weekly poker games with his buddies. In 2011 he attended the A-1 Skyraider pilots' reunion in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, wearing his flight suit proudly. Edd enjoyed being outside sunning himself and he loved a daily glass of "red wine you can't see through." While reminiscing recently, Edd repeated that he did have a great ride, not only with his active service in the Air Force, but also with his family and friends. His four children were born on different AF bases, the youngest while he was in Vietnam, and he recognized the difficulty they had moving from base to base and school to school. He always gave credit to his wife, Norma, for holding the family together. Edd said that service people became very familiar with the old adage that the two best assignments in the world were the one you just left and the one you are going to. Edd has just gone to his last assignment.
Edd leaves behind to cherish his memory his beloved children: Mark Bulka, Portland, Oregon; Michelle Geyer, San Antonio, Texas, and her two children, Nicholas and Jessica, his grandchildren; Allison (Alley) Bulka, Birmingham, Alabama, and Christopher Bulka and his partner Andrew Hebbeler, Washington, DC. He also is survived by his brother, Peter Bulka, of Indianapolis, Indiana, who always knew how to cheer Edd up; his "sister," Jane Jamison, his confidante and dear friend; his nieces and nephews, and Godson, Michael Jamison. He leaves many, many friends.
Colonel Edward G. Bulka will be laid to rest, along with his wife Norma, on January 08, 2014 at 11:00 AM, at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, you may honor Edd with donations to the Lions Club, Wounded Warriors, or a charity of your choice.