ALTUS, Okla. --
In 1973, U.S. Air Force Col. Aaron “Burley” Burleson took command of the 97th Air Mobility Wing. He retired on July 1, 1974 after 35 years and 21 days of military service to his country.
Burleson passed away on Aug. 29, 2011. To honor his numerous achievements, the portion of State Highway 62 beginning at County Road 206 and extending east to County Road 210 in Jackson County is now designated as the "Colonel Aaron C. ‘Burley’ Burleson Memorial Highway." A sign commemoration ceremony was held on Sept. 28, 2018, adjacent to Altus Air Force Base, with distinguished members of the Altus community and the State of Oklahoma in attendance.
“Highway 62 was always special to my grandfather,” said Melissa McLawhorn, granddaughter of Burleson. “It was the road that leads from Altus AFB to Fort Sill, which he revered as a vital connection to this country’s defensive capabilities. I think it’s fitting that these two miles running parallel with the base are being dedicated for his commitment to the base and the City of Altus.”
Aaron Burleson, a native Oklahoman, continued his work with the Altus community after his time as commander.
In 1985, he became the director of military development for the Altus Chamber of Commerce, serving as the prime liaison between the people of Altus and the personnel at Altus AFB. His years of active-duty provided personal connections and insight that provided support to Altus AFB's success in the 1980s and 1990s.
Working with Air Force personnel and congressional members, his leadership helped to secure funding and resources needed for Altus AFB. Some of the projects he worked on included $20 million in critical funding to assist the base recovery from tornado damage in 1982, $23 million for new housing on base, $11 million for an easement purchase at both ends of the runway, $8.1 million for a support facility, $29 million for a parallel/assault runway, $14.8 million for a corrosion control facility and $900,000 for a drop zone.
Burleson had more than 3,000 flying hours, primarily as a transport pilot in the B-24 Liberator, F-7 Interceptor, C-47 Skytrain, C-54 Skymaster, C-131 Samaritan, C-140B Jetstat and the C-5 Galaxy. He earned two Legion of Merit medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross and numerous campaign ribbons.
In 2000, Burleson was honored for his meritorious service in the Army Air Corps in World War II, his outstanding Air Force career and his service to the people of Altus AFB with the Consolidated Support Facility, building 52, at Altus AFB being named the “Colonel 'Burley' Burleson Consolidated Support Facility.”
The “Colonel 'Burley' Burleson Consolidated Support Facility” and “Colonel Aaron C. ‘Burley’ Burleson Memorial Highway” are reminders of the longstanding commitment to excellence Airman have for the Mighty 97th and the community of Altus.