Vincent G. Feeney, 83, a retired Air Force colonel and church layman, died of a stroke July 20 at Washington Hospital Center after the implantation of a pacemaker.
Col. Feeney was born in Elmo, Kan., one of 10 children. He worked two jobs to afford college at Kansas State University but interrupted his studies in 1942 to become an officer in the Army Airways Communications Service. He was trained in electronics and was responsible for supervising radio equipment while posted in Panama.
In 1942, he was in a convoy to Panama when he witnessed a German U-boat attack another ship.
"He was standing on deck with another soldier, just watching the night sky, when all of a sudden a fuel ship in his convoy just blew up. It was hit by a torpedo," William L. Feeney said, recalling the story his father told him. Col. Feeney and the other soldier had to run below deck to grab their helmets, flak jackets and safety equipment, moving against the tide of soldiers coming topside.
During service in Africa, his responsibilities included leading expeditions into the jungle to remove classified gear from crashed U.S. military airplanes before enemy spies reached it, his son said.
After his military service, Col. Feeney received a bachelor's degree in milling science at Kansas State University in 1947 and became a manager with the Kellogg cereal company in Battle Creek, Mich.
He was recalled to the Air Force in 1951 and served in Alaska, New Jersey, Germany, England, California and at Bolling Air Force Base.
While in Germany and England in the 1950s, he took lengthy trips to the Middle East to help with antennas used for secret U-2 flights over the Soviet Union. While stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California from 1960 to 1964, he was deputy commander, and often acting commander, of the satellite and missile tracking station during the early years of the Strategic Air Command's ballistic missile buildup and the space program's early manned spaceflights.
Returning to the Washington area in 1964, he served with the Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base. He later served at the Defense Communications Agency in Arlington.
He lived in the Washington area, primarily in Temple Hills and Annapolis, off and on since 1953.
His military medals included the Legion of Merit and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak-leaf cluster.
He retired from the Air Force in 1971. He then was a real estate broker for a small firm before starting his own company with a partner in La Plata. He also was a wage and hour investigator for the state of Maryland for about nine years. He retired in 1985.
His wife of 40 years, Nancy Longwell Feeney, died in 1989.
In 1995, Col. Feeney moved to the Ginger Clove retirement community in Annapolis.
He was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in Davidsonville and a former member of St. Philip's Catholic Church in Camp Springs. He volunteered with Hospice of Prince George's County.
He belonged to the Knights of Columbus in Forestville, where he had once served as president of the Silver and Gold Club. He also was on the board of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra and was a lifetime member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In addition to his son, of Fairfax, survivors include three children, Carol Bartlett of Waldorf, Gerald M. Feeney of Cape Canaveral, Fla., and Mark R. Feeney of Fredericksburg; a brother; a sister; three grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.