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Lt. Col. Scott M. McGonagle, 55, lived his dream in U.S. Air Force

June 16, 1962 - Feb. 23, 2018

For as long as Stephen McGonagle can remember, his younger brother, Scott, dreamed of a career in the military.

Kenmore resident Scott McGonagle lived out his dream as an air weapons officer in the U.S. Air Force, with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and across Africa and Europe.

"He was always interested in aviation and air weapons, the history and technology of it," Stephen McGonagle said of his brother. "When he first graduated from college and was commissioned, he got a job offer to write military history in the Pentagon, which was a very unusual assignment, but he turned that down to go to Germany."

Lt. Col. Scott M. McGonagle died Feb. 23 after a battle with cancer in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was 55.

A memorial service will be held at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday in Holy Angels Catholic Church, 348 Porter Ave.

Scott McGonagle grew up in Amherst and was a 1980 graduate of Sweet Home High School, before attending Ohio State University in Columbus, from which he graduated in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in military history. He pursued National Security Policy Studies through the Air Force ROTC, while earning Arnold Air Society Honors.

"From the time I remember, all he wanted to do was be a military officer as a little kid. What his motivation was, I don't know, but that's all he ever wanted to do in life," Stephen McGonagle recalled of his brother.

"Scott was a very smart guy, well read and had kind of a photographic memory almost. All he did was read. Days before his death, he was reading a book about air power in the Royal Air Force. That was just his life, the study of military history and military tactics and the militaries of other countries," Stephen McGonagle said.

Upon graduation from the Air Force ROTC program at Ohio State, McGonagle was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and went to active duty in Germany where he was an air battle manager aboard a Boeing E-3 Sentry.

During this time, his commanders selected him to attend the prestigious USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, which provides advanced training in weapons and tactics employment to officers of the combat air forces.

McGonagle found a permanent home with the 152nd Tactical Air Control Group in 1995, and was in on the ground floor as the unit transitioned to the Air Operations Center Mission during the late 1990s. He became combat mission ready as a defensive duty officer, and was deployed to Operation SOUTHERN WATCH at Royal Saudi Air Force Headquarters in Riyadh in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

He was deployed as a weapons and tactics instructor with the Royal Jordanian Air Force in 1996, and deployed to NATO Forces Command North at Bodo, Norway, in 1997. He followed that with a deployment to Vicenza, Italy, and in 2002 to Continental NORAD Region Air Operations Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, where he was responsible for planning air surveillance to protect President George W. Bush while aboard Air Force One.

McGonagle saw deployments to Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. In 2009, he transferred to the 217th Air Operations Squadron, Michigan Air National Guard. He returned to the 152nd Air Operations Group in 2011.

He was a graduate of Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, Air War College and the Naval War College Senior Service School.

In all, he served 28 years of active duty until his retirement in 2012.

Following active duty, McGonagle joined the New York Air National Guard, where he served as an air battle manager with the 108th Air Control Squadron, and was deployed to the Caribbean and United States SOUTHCOM Region, where he took part in counternarcotics and smuggling interdiction operations.

He married the former Julie Taeger in 1995. They had two sons, David -- who will follow in his father's footsteps when he attends Ohio State this fall -- and William.

"The boys and my brother were real Ohio State football fans. They went to the games, and when he got sick and couldn't go anymore, they watched them on TV," Stephen McGonagle said.

"Scott was a very serious guy and he had a very dry and intellectual sense of humor," Stephen McGonagle said. "When he told a joke I would laugh, but would have to go home and Google it."

Aside from military pursuits and reading about the military, McGonagle had an affinity for classical music.

"He studied -- I mean, read about and studied -- classical music on his own. He also studied art history, not for school but just because he was interested," Stephen McGonagle said.

Despite his intellectual pursuits, McGonagle was described by his brother as "a simple guy of simple means: a modest house, a modest car, not ostentatious, very patriotic. He was a beer snob and a coffee snob."

In addition to his wife, sons and brother, McGonagle is survived by his parents, Joanne and David Eckel.

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