MBAF Base Commander, Cajun At Heart
by Melissa LaScaleia
Our history section this month honors the late colonel Edsel “Coupe” J. DeVille, who was stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1978, and passed away this fall, on October 21, 2016. DeVille Street, one of the main streets in the Market Common, is named after him, in commemoration of his life and legacy.
Edsel J. DeVille was born and raised in the heart of Cajun Country, Eunice, Louisiana— home of friendly people, dancing, and good food. He attended Louisiana State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology. He later attended Georgia College, where he received his MBA.
DeVille served our country as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. He signed up for two combat tours in Vietnam, and flew more than 400 combat missions. Some of his illustrious military decorations include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters; three distinguished Flying Crosses, one of which was for “Heroism in Combat;” as well as designation as a Top Gun in the A-10 Aircraft, the plane sometimes referred to as the “Warthog.”
There is an A-10 fighter jetcraft at Warbird Park in the Market Common, on display to visitors.
This was a park that DeVille helped to establish to remember the history of the Air Force base after it closed in 1993.
Colonel DeVille logged more than 5,000 hours flying twelve different aircraft over the course of his twenty-eight years of service in the Air Force.
During his tenure in the military, he was stationed at fourteen bases. He was first assigned to the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in April 1978, as commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron flying the A-10. After other assignments, in 1987, he returned to Myrtle Beach and served as base commander.
He retired from the military in November 1989, deciding to remain in Myrtle Beach with his wife, and making it his permanent home. He loved the friendships and community he and his family had found here.
After the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base closed, DeVille was involved with the base redevelopment project as chairman of the initial base redevelopment committee. He was supportive of the plan to develop a downtown area, to centralize the shopping, activities, and restaurants along the 70 plus miles of the Grand Strand.
John Jobson, partner at Properties at the Market Common and business partner and friend of DeVille, salutes him thus:
“Coupe: a force of nature for sure! He embraced life with total enthusiasm and also knew how to work within boundaries. A rare combination of a dynamic personality and social responsibility. A man’s man and a national treasure. A Cajun at heart, a team member in life. Thanks Coupe! Your legacy is appreciated by those who were privileged to know and work with you as friends first.”
To read more of our history features click here.