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Mark Pritchard Bratton, Pilot
344th BG, 497th BS

Mark Pritchard Bratton born 20 August 1924 to William A. Bratton and wife Faye Pritchard in 1 Dalhart, Texas, died 9 February 2004 in Corpus Christi, Texas after a gallant four month struggle to regain his health following a plane crash near San Antonio, Texas.

Mark's father was a prominate lumber businessman in Pampa, Texas. Mark spent most of his adult life in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was involved in real estate and land development. Mark was an enthusiastic hobbyist as a teenager. He built and entered his vehicle in Soap Box Derby races and won best design in national competition, later he built remote control model airplanes.

After arriving in Corpus Christi, Texas, Mark became involved in sail boating. In 1959 he won the international competition in the Highlander Class of sailboats. Later Mark became involved in Go Kart competition. He continued to build model airplanes and also became a skilled aircraft pilot with multiple ratings. His endeavors extended to other activities such as flying Young Eagles for the Century of Flight celebration.

Following Mark's graduation from Pampa High School in 1941, he enrolled at Texas University in Austin. When Pearl Harbor occurred in December 1941 he immediately volunteered for duty with the Army Air Corp as an Aviation Cadet. He was found to be an exceptional pilot and by 1943 he had earned his pilot wings and commissioned a second lieutenant at age 19.

Mark and an Air Corps captain flew their aircraft, a B-26 Medium Bomber from the United States to England. Mark piloted and completed 43 missions over enemy territory before May 1945 when Germany surrendered.

After WWII Mark re-enrolled at the University of Texas. Following college he became the owner of a lumber company. In 1948 he met and married Ann Hardy of Corpus Christi. They were parents of four children. Mark became a partner with his father, father in law, Nat W. Hardy and John Zerr, in East Cliff Residential subdivisions. At the same time, Mark started building and marketing his houses in the Corpus Christi area.

Since then Mark has continued in land development.

One of Mark's hobbies was design and construction of automobiles for his own use. Later he designed and built a series of competitive race cars winning regional championships.

Mark's interest in flying model airplanes continued as well as his fascination with flying developed in WWII. Eventually he bought and restored older planes making them airworthy. This led to him building a Swearingen SX300, which he flew for the next 14 years throughout the United States. He won the Sun N' Fun in Florida in 1990. In 1999 the plane was flown in the Reno Air Races.

Mark is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ann Hardy Bratton; his daughter, Barbara Bratton Allen and her husband Mitchell, his son John Pritchard Bratton and his wife Johanna and his four grandchildren and one great grandchild. He was predeceased by his parents and two of his children, Marian and William Hardy Bratton.

Funeral Service will be held at Seaside Funeral Home Chapel on Thursday, February 12, 2004 at 11:00am.

Interment to follow at Seaside Memorial Park.

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