Solomon Harp III, the retired chief of operations at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and a decorated Air Force colonel, died Monday of Alzheimer's disease at Manor Care nursing home in Silver Spring. The Columbia resident was 78.
Born in Pottsville, Pa., he moved to Baltimore as a child with his parents. He attended Booker T. Washington Junior High School and was a 1948 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School. He earned a biology degree from Lincoln University. Family members said he was a gifted athlete and excelled in football and track. He later earned a master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.
He joined the Air Force in 1952. He received his pilot's wings in 1957 in Laredo, Texas. In 1967, he went through combat crew training in the F-4 jet fighter. He commanded the 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron in Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
From 1972 to 1975, he was assigned to the Readiness Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, where he was commander of a joint task force to plan, lead and conduct airlift disaster relief operations in Mali, Chad and Mauritania.
Colonel Harp was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, a Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and the Republic of Korea Service Medal.
Colonel Harp was among the first residents of Columbia, where he and his wife raised four daughters.
"Nothing was more important to Sol than his family," said his son-in-law, William Roberts of Chevy Case. "He was extremely proud of all of their accomplishments, and pushed them to study hard, to focus on education and put their family first."
Upon his 1985 retirement from the military, Colonel Harp was operations director of what is now BWI Marshall Airport. until 1997.
Services will be held at noon today at the Howell Funeral Home, 10220 Guilford Road in Jessup. An 11 a.m. wake precedes the service.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, the former Carolyn White; four daughters, Cherie Harp Roberts of Chevy Chase, Cassandra Wendy Harp of Barbados, West Indies, Dr. Joy Harp of New Brunswick, N.J., and Lisa Harp of San Mateo, Calif.; two sisters, Beatrice Royster and Marlene Wilson, both of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.