Al Raia was a navigator in the 190th ARW for several years before transferring to the Air Force Reserve.
Col Al Raia, USAF Ret., died of cancer at McLeod Regional Hospital on January 1, 2019. He spent the last 11 years of his life in Florence, South Carolina.
He was born December 8, 1939 in the Bronx, New York, to Frank and Dorothy Raia. He graduated from All Hallows High School and Hunter College in New York City.
He entered the Air Force in 1964 and had assignments in Vietnam, Thailand and across the United States during his six years’ active duty. He used the GI Bill to graduate from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, after his marriage to Stephanie White Raia in 1972. He served an additional 24 years in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, retiring as a colonel. Although Al was a navigator for much of his career, he had no sense of direction on the ground.
During his civilian career he was an auditor with HEW and a recruiter for the Kansas High Way Patrol. However, he was most proud of his 30-year career in the Air Force.
He loved his family, his friends, people in general, talking, travel, KU basketball and Notre Dame football. He also loved boating, his yard and his house. No worker or delivery person left his home without a cold drink, money for lunch and life advice.
He is survived by his wife, Stephanie, his son, Alec, his daughter-in-law, Robi, and his grandson, Lucas. Other survivors include his sister, Frances Lopez; brother, Tom Raia, and sister-in-law, Marie; sister-in-law, Donna O’Brien and brother-in-law, Charles; four nephews: Doug Raia, Greg Lopez, Scott O’Brien and Mike O’Brien; four nieces: Kim Parslow, Heather Coggin, Karen Chadwick and Jennifer Soldi; and beloved aunts and cousins.
The family is eternally grateful to Dr. Sreenivas Rao, Dr. Rhett Spencer, Dr. Vipul Shah, Dr. Don Behling and the compassionate, dedicated staff of the Oncology and ICU floors at McLeod.
There will be a graveside service in the National Cemetery in Florence, South Carolina on Friday, January 11, at 2 p.m. directed by Cain Calcutt Funeral Home, followed by a celebration of his life at his Caution-home.
Instead of flowers, Al requested that donations be used to help children in need by supporting All Hallows High, 111 East 164th Street, Bronx, NY 10452 or the Force for Good Fund at the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, PO Box 1615, Florence, South Carolina 29503.
His family requests that you honor his memory by speaking to a stranger and cheering for an underdog.
If you would like to leave a message for the family please visit the following site: https://www.cainfh.com/notices/ColAl-RaiaUSAFRet