Retired Air Force Col. Roy Parnell, 64, who commanded the Special Air Missions Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base that maintains aircraft used by the president, died Monday at Walter Reed Hospital. He had cancer.
He commanded the squadron of 16 four-engine planes under presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. In addition to being used by the president, the aircraft often are used by visiting dignitaries for their American travels.
Following his 1964 retirement from active duty, Col. Parnell was a Federal Aviation Administration operations officer at Dulles International Airport until retiring a second time in 1977.
Col. Parnell was born on a farm near Waverly, Tenn. He was a graduate of Stephen F. Austin Teachers College in Texas and the Air Command and Staff School.
He received a commission in the Army Air Corps in 1941, and served as a command pilot and flight instructor in B26 and B17 aircraft during World War II.
He later served as maintenance director of an air base in Bermuda and commanded an air transport squadron in Alabama before becoming commander of an air rescue squadron in Japan in the early 1950s.
While in Japan, Col. Parnell received a letter of appreciation from Japanese authorities for his help in rescue operations during a 1954 typhoon.
He is survived by his wife, Effie Marie, of the home in Reston; three sons, William B., of Stafford, Va., Gary C., of Alexandria, and Air Force Maj. Roy L., of White Rock, N.M.; a sister Polly Long, of Moore Haven, Fla., and four grandchildren.