Alex J. Somppi Jr.

Pilot, 80Col. Alex J. Somppi Jr., U.S. Air Force, retired, died Jan. 19, 2004 at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash., from complications of a recent stroke.

Col. Somppi was born born July 17, 1923, in Astoria, to Alex J. Somppi Sr. and Sadie Crume Somppi. He grew up in Brownsville, and graduated from Brownsville High School in 1941. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He was a colonel when he retired from the Air Force 28 years later in 1971. During his career he logged over 10,000 hours of flight time in more than 30 different types of aircraft. His favorite aircraft, according to family members, was the P-38 Lightning.

Col. Somppi served in Italy during World War II and later completed three tours of duty in Thailand and Vietnam, flying more than 150 combat missions. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star, 13 Air Medals and two Air Force Commendation Medals.

While in the Air Force, Col. Somppi earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Washington. He spent 19 years working for the Northrop Corporation, mainly as a logistical support director for Thailand, Taiwan and Korea.

In 1992 he returned to Astoria to the house his grandfather had built in 1902, which is now a historic landmark. Family members say he was a founding member of the Breakfast Club, which meets for coffee every morning at Home Bakery.

Col. Somppi is survived by four children, Alexa Peterson of Renton, Wash., Laurence Hopper of Seattle, Wash., Ken Somppi of Auburn, Ala., and Kenlyn Emerson of Sammamish, Wash.; a brother, Bill Somppi of Corvallis; and seven grandchildren.

Col. Somppi will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., later this year.

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