United States Air Force (Retired), died on December 30th 2019 at Falcons Landing, the military retirement community in Sterling, Virginia. Born on July 30th 1934 in Hammond, Indiana, a suburb of Chicago, George was the eldest child of John and Sonia Devorshak. His father was an electrical welder; his mother was a native of Tsarist Russia who emigrated to the US in the late 1920’s.
George grew up in the Chicago area, graduating from J Sterling Morton East High School in Cicero, Illinois. After receiving a degree in Business Administration, he began his long military carrier in 1956, first in the Aviation Cadet program at Stallings Air Base in Kinston, North Carolina and then in Air Training Command at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. He officially became a jet fighter pilot in 1957 and served in the Illinois National Guard until he joined the US Air Force in 1963 as a 2nd Lieutenant. In the Air Force, George received advanced training and graduated top of his class from the highly prestigious Fighter Weapons School in 1965.
Promoted to Captain, he began the first of his three tours in Vietnam in 1966, based at Cam Ranh Bay. On that first tour, George flew 168 combat missions, 68 more than the 100 needed to be eligible to return home. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal in 1967, the first of many medals recognizing his heroic bravery and service. His second Vietnam tour was also based out of Cam Ranh Bay, while his third tour in the early 1970’s was based out of Udorn, Thailand. All told, George flew for over 4,200 hours during these three tours, with almost 400 hours of aerial combat.
Besides his service in South East Asia, George served at Air Force bases in Germany and the USA – Bitburg, Langley, MacDill, Ramstein, Sembach, Spangdahlem – as well as at the Pentagon. He had a multiplicity of roles and increasing responsibilities – pilot, combat pilot, combat instructor pilot, squadron commander, Deputy Commander of Operations. During his career, George flew a great variety of aircraft – the F-84, F-86, F-100, F-4, F-105, F-5, F-15, and the F-16. His favorite by far was the F-15 which he started flying while based at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia when he was commander of the 27th Tactical Air Command Fighter Squadron there. In 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Devorshak flew an F-15D with singer John Denver in the award-winning ABC television special “The Higher We Fly: The History of Flight”, still available on YouTube, https://youtu.be/6ViypE3YguU . George retired from the Air Force in 1985.
At the beginning of his military career, George met Karen Nielsen, a secretary from Copenhagen, Denmark who worked at the Danish Consulate in Chicago. They were married in September 1958 and had four children – Elisa, Jack, Yanna, and Christina.
After George’s retirement, the couple moved first to Fairfax and then to Middleburg, Virginia where they became integral members of the community. Karen was active in the Middleburg Garden Club, George was a serious poker player and – most especially – Mr. Fixit for every poorly maintained, user-abused, virus-infected desktop and laptop within ten miles of his home. When the renewed/repaired/resurrected device was returned to its careless owner, George refused to be compensated for his diligent, thorough, and extremely effective services. He did, though, deliver an extensive diagnostic analysis of what had gone wrong and why, and provided multiple guidance points on how to avert the problems going forward. Many of his customers were dreadful backsliders, however.
After being married for over fifty years, Karen passed away in 2009, and is buried in Middleburg Emmanuel Episcopal Church Cemetery where George will join her. George was also predeceased by his younger sister Sonia Hallberg and younger brother John.
“ I am the eagle, I live in high country in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky./I am the hawk, and there’s blood on my feathers./But time is still turning, they soon will be dry./And all those who see me, and all who believe in me/share in the freedom I feel when I fly” – John Denver