At five days old he served as the newborn Jesus in the live nativity scene at his local Catholic Church and he maintained his strong Catholic faith throughout his entire life. Ed passed from this life into the arms of the Lord on January 28, 2023 in Austin, TX.
He graduated from Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, MO. in 1950. He then attended St. Louis University and graduated in 1954 with a B.S.G.E. degree. He was a member of Delta Sigma Pi and the ROTC. He was commissioned upon completion of the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
On April 14, 1956 he married Mary Jean Stephens in St. Louis, MO. and they moved immediately to Big Spring, TX. for his first assignment at Webb Air Force Base as a flight instructor. Then he was stationed in Malden, MO; San Antonio, TX; Montgomery, AL where he attended Squadron Officers School; Valdosta, GA; Phoenix, AZ; Hahn AB, Germany; Nuremberg, Germany; Tuy Hòa, Vietnam; Las Vegas, NV and finally, Austin, TX. In Germany he was assigned to the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing and flew the F100. Once back stateside, Ed was sent on two tours to fly combat in Vietnam. He was a member of the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Emerald Knights) using the call sign: ‘Bandit’. He was gone one year. We are so blessed he returned home to us. Ed then became a member of the 442nd Tactical Fighter Training Squadron flying the F111. Followed by an assignment to the 429th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Black Falcons). In 1972 the family moved from Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV to Austin, TX where he was based at Bergstrom Air Force Base with the 12th Air Force until his retirement in 1978 as a Lt. Col. He flew 6,600 hours and served an impressive 24 years in the United States Air Force. Once retired, Ed flew for Rio Airways, Emerald Air, and Braniff. His final position was co-pilot for the State Aircraft Pooling Board.
Among his many Air Force accomplishments and awards are:
Air Medal with 2 bronze oak leaf clusters and 3 silver oak leaf clusters
Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with 4 bronze oak leaf clusters
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with 2 bronze service stars
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Ed was preceded in death by his parents, Ermine and Mabel Cullen; his sister, Delores Schweisfurth; his brother, Thomas Cullen; and infant brother, Jimmy Cullen.
Surviving him are his wife, Jean, of 66 years; their three sons, Dan (Diana) of New Braunfels; Michael (Stacey) of Buda; Matt (Julie) of Buda; and four daughters, Diane (Steven) of Lakeway; Donna (Joe) of Cedar Park; Cathie (Shaun) of Pflugerville; and Sharon of Austin. Also survived by 19 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and brother-in-law Bob Stephens (Anne) of St. Louis, MO.
In addition to his Air Force career, Ed was a devout Catholic and member of the Knights of Columbus. Ed and Jean worked tirelessly, for many years, for the Right to Life cause with the Texas Alliance For Life, Inc. In lieu of flowers, a donation to his favorite pro-life organization (TAL) would be appreciated.
The family would like to thank the 6th floor staff of Dell Seton Medical Center, Dr. Matthew Seghers, and, especially, Justin Whitley with the Palliative Care Team for their excellent care these last seven weeks.
Ed was born to be a pilot, loved to race cars – he was named Rookie of the Year at the age of 65, and enjoyed working on cars. In his honor, a bowl of vanilla ice cream with Crème de Menthe on top would be appropriate. He always said: “Life is short, eat dessert first!”
Pallbearers are grandsons: Nathaniel Joiner, Andrew Hensley, Ryan Cullen, Cullen Tuggle, Dayton Cullen, and Jacob Cullen.