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Robert W. McKee, veteran

Robert Wilson McKee, a career naval officer and World War II veteran, died Nov. 12 of respiratory failure at the Fairhaven retirement community in Sykesville.

The former Ellicott City resident was 95.

Mr. McKee was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he graduated in 1933 from East High School.

After earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1937 from Ohio State University, Mr. McKee went to work for the Corning Glass Co. in Corning, N.Y., as plant manager.

He enlisted in the Navy in 1940, and after completing flight training at the Pensacola, Fla., Naval Air Station, was assigned as a pilot to Black Cat Squadron 81, which provided anti-submarine and convoy air coverage in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

From 1943 to 1944, he flew Catalina PBY-5A aircraft in the South Pacific with Rankin's Night Raiders, who were also known as the Black Cats.

"The aircraft were painted black in order to fly at night attacking Japanese shipping and military supply boats," said his son, Robert Butler McKee of Charlottesville, Va. "They illuminated and flushed barges for PT boats as well as bombed barges in places the PTs could not reach."

His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross.

At war's end, he was assigned in 1945 as a test pilot to Terminal Island, Calif. During the Korean War, he served aboard the carriers USS Tarawa and Bon Homme Richard.

In 1955, he was commander of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 13 and later flew Lockheed radar Super Constellations over the North Atlantic.

At his 1965 retirement, he was inspector of naval materiel in Baltimore. He later worked in material handling for Westinghouse Electric Co. until retiring in 1980.

He was a communicant of St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City.

Mr. McKee, who lived on Turf Valley Road until moving to Fairhaven in 2003, was an avid golfer and a member of Turf Valley Country Club. He had been a Baltimore Colts fan and was an Ohio State University football fan.

His wife of 57 years, the former Mary Florence Butler, died in 2003.

Services were held Friday at Fairhaven.

In addition to his son, Mr. McKee is survived by two granddaughters and two great-grandchildren.

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