Marvin H. McLain
On January 6, 1918, Marvin H. McLain was born in the little Northern California town of Kennett. (It’s a place that you won’t find on a current map, since it’s at the bottom of what is now Lake Shasta.) From that tiny little town, Marvin
went on to see a whole lot of the great big world–quite often from above it.
While living in Oakland with his family, Marvin was working for the telephone company when WWII broke out. So he enlisted in the Army as part of the Signal Corps. When that turned out to entail much paper pushing, Marvin volunteered for the Aviation Cadets Corps. He didn’t expect to actually fly a plane—more than half of the cadets washed out–but that’s exactly what ended up happening.
In the midst of his training, Marvin enjoyed a 3-week leave back home in Oakland. It was there that he happened to spy a young lady from Nebraska, Loretta “Pat” Shanahan, sitting on a bus stop bench. It was the beginning of a long, sometimes stormy and always loving relationship.
Back on duty, Marvin graduated from flying school as a Second Lieutenant and Army Pilot. At Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho he met his first plane, a B-24 bomber. (His introductory flight was piloted by his unit’s Operations Officer, 1st Lt. James Stewart. Yes, THAT Jimmy Stewart.) From Idaho, Marvin went on to fight in the South Pacific via Darwin, in northern Australia.
After the war, and several years of suggesting it to the reluctant Pat, Marvin finally persuaded her to marry him. Nearly 65 years of marriage were to follow, complete with five children, several moves and many, many more travels throughout and after his military career.
After his discharge from active duty, Marvin remained in the Air Force Reserves so he could keep flying, which he did during the Korean War, Vietnam War and afterward. Great Falls, MT, Guam, Tokyo; flying C-54s, weather B-29s and WB-50s (several times into the eyes of typhoons). Back stateside, stints at Travis AFB and McClellan AFB summed up Marvin’s career with the Air Force.
But he still kept flying. While he and Pat mostly settled down in Newcastle, CA, and then on a large walnut orchard in nearby Foresthill, they enjoyed frequent jaunts in their Mooney airplane. When they moved to Fallon in 1998, they made sure the little Mooney would always be nearby—housed within eyesight of their home at Fallon Municipal Airport.
He kept flying even after Pat, his longtime co-pilot, passed away in 2011. But he was the first to admit that it just wasn’t the same without her.
On November 21, just over a month shy of his 99th birthday, Marvin succumbed to heart failure.
He is survived by his five children, Valerie, Randy, Greg, Chad and Tami; grandchildren and four great grandchildren. We all love him, miss him and will never forget his love for us, for God and his country.
Keep flying, Marvie & Pat!
Please join the family for Marvin’s memorial service on Saturday January 14th at 11:00 am at Smith Family Funeral Home, 505 Rio Vista Drive in Fallon.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the military children’s scholarship fund, Folds of Honor, in Marvin’s memory, http://www.foldsofhonor.org.