Dudley Clyde Asher always had a fascination for flying, and while he was still in high school, started working for a crop dusting firm near his hometown of Perry, Georgia, flying twin engine prop planes. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Dud didn’t wait to be drafted, but marched down to the local recruiter and used his flight experience to sign up for the Army Air Corp. In a matter of months, he was in Europe, flying missions in some of the most hotly contested theaters of the war. Shot down twice, but never captured, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained evading the enemy while leading his crew to safety after being shot down over Berlin.
A few months before enlisting, he married his childhood sweetheart, Patricia Tucker, who learned just after he shipped out that their first child was on the way, which turned out to be a daughter who Patsy named Deanna Clyde. Back in the states after VE Day, Dud put his flight training to good use, opening his own crop dusting business in Cordele. Over the next several years, Dud and Patsy had three more daughters, and Dud taught all of them to fly as soon as they were big enough to reach the controls. His two oldest daughters went to work with the company and stayed after they married and started their families. When Patsy was expecting their fifth in early-1953, she let Dud know this would be their last, and Dud was very relieved when it turned out to be their only son, who they named Owen Monroe after his two grandfathers.
Owen was an exceptionally cute baby with a full head of jet-black, curly hair, and expressive blue eyes, who was spoiled by his mother and older sisters. Just like his sisters, Owen learned to fly at an early age, and by high school, in addition to helping out with the family business, made some cash on the side shuttling people between the various small airstrips throughout rural Georgia. When he graduated, he enlisted in the Air Force, and, like his father before him, flew missions over Europe, albeit as a cargo pilot. Along the way, he earned his degree in Engineering so that once he left regular service in 1977, he headed to Atlanta to pursue graduate studies. Once there, he joined the Reserves, found work as a pilot for DHL, and, halfway through his first year of classes, met an attractive, ginger-haired undergraduate named Sharon Lawson. They married late in ‘79.