Col. Guiles dies, concluding life of military and community service

LAKE GEORGE One of the most prominent local citizens in recent history died last week after completing lengthy distinguished careers in both the military and in community service. Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Benjamin F. Guiles, 86, died Feb. 14 in Glens Falls Hospital. I just dont have the vocabulary to tell you how great a man Ben Guiles was, Maynard Baker, former Warrensburg supervisor, said of the Lake George native. Among his many roles in the Air Force, Guiles served as a pilot, aerospace engineer, air traffic control systems analyst and commander of several continental and overseas flight units. He retired from Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, N.Y. as chief of staff of a global command, after having served with distinction in World War II, the Korean War, and during the Vietnam conflict. Over his 30 years in the Air Force, Guiles received dozens of service awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and The Legion of Merit for military service of national significance. Retiring in 1972 to manage the Wind Song Motel he built and operated with his wife Audrey, Guiles turned his attention to community service. Guiles served 10 years on the Warrensburg Central School Board of Education, three as president. During his tenure, the new junior-senior high school was built. He served on the Warren County Cooperative Extension Board, was a commander of the Haskell Bros. VFW Post No. 4821 of Warrensburg and worked with the Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board prior to the 1980 Olympics. In the Air Force, Guiles served in Tokyo, Berlin, Alaska, Labrador, Turkey, Hawaii and the Pacific Rim. Guiles wrote the flight engineer manual for the B-29 bomber, and commanded this aircraft on 38 combat missions from Saipan to Japan, in 1944 and 1945. During the Korean War, he served in Strategic Air Command headquarters. Before and during the Vietnam War, he served in the Pacific Air Force Command, where he developed and managed the Southeast Asia Air Traffic Control System. During his military career, Guiles received many honors, including the Presidential Unit Citation, the Distinguished Flying Cross and The Legion of Merit -- for military service of national significance. But his talents werent confined to the military. He was an accomplished opera singer, painter and author. In 1947-1948, he hosted his own radio show, Musical Showcase. Presenting semi-classical and popular songs, the show was broadcast by a Glen Falls radio station. He wrote a novel titled Wings, Women and War, and a screenplay based on the work. There was no limit how far that man could go, Baker said. Nothing ever held him back from whatever he wanted to accomplish. Baker first met Guiles when Baker laid the foundation for the Wind Song Motel, where Ben and Audrey raised and bred quarter horses. Audrey died in early 2007. A staunch property rights advocate, Guiles served as an officer on Bakers Adirondack Freedom Fighters organization. Guiles had deep roots in the area. Guiles was born in the Town of Caldwell now Lake George and attended Warrensburg High School, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1938. He continued his studies at Union College and New York University before entering service in 1942. Guiles also had a philanthropic side. He devoted 25 years to developing the Saint Francis Academy, based in Salina, Kansas, into a national mental health care institution devoted to the care and treatment of troubled children. The academy successfully treats hundreds of children each year, both here and in foreign countries. Guiles survivors include his twin daughters, Pamela L. York and Patricia Anatole; and two grandsons, Jason and Adam York, all of Lake George; plus one sister, June Tyrell of Troy. Guiles funeral was held Sunday at the Maynard D. Baker Funeral Home in Queensbury, with a large presentation of his military medals and awards on display. Guiles blue metallic casket was adorned by depictions of the bombers that he knew so well. Burial with full military honors will be held this Spring. Memorial donations, according to Guiles wishes, may be made to the Saint Francis Academy.

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