Former Southampton Teacher Irl R. Flanagan Jr. Served in WWII

Irl R. Flanagan Jr.
Irl R. Flanagan Jr.

Irl R. Flanagan Jr., a retired East End educator and pilot who served in World War II, died April 22, of natural causes. He was 99 1/2 years old.

Born in Jamaica, New York in 1923 to Irl R. Flanagan Sr. and Edna Flanagan, he graduated from Jamaica High School in 1940 and was a student at Hofstra College until he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in January 1942. He married Portia Polhemus, also of Jamaica.

After pilot training, Flanagan was assigned to duty flying a C-47 transport in China, Burma and India in the 319th Combat Cargo squadron. Missions included carrying loads over the southern area of the Himalaya Mountains from Burma to China, as well as extensive missions throughout both Burma and China.

Cargoes consisted of, among other things, 100-octane fuel, Jeeps, aircraft engines, mules for use in forward areas, supplies for mountaintop installations, ice, rice and bread. Other duties included towing gliders, transporting officers on official duty in enemy territory and a critical paratroop drop over Rangoon, Burma, to help drive Japanese troops out of the area. For these actions he was awarded two Air Medals and one Distinguished Flying Cross.

After military service, Flanagan completed a BA at Hofstra College and an MA at Columbia University.

He began a career in education in the Southampton Public Schools, where he taught English, starting at seventh grade and eventually progressing to the Advanced Placement class in the senior year. He was appointed coordinator of the English Department when academic departments were established.

During evenings and summers, he was an adjunct professor of English at Adelphi University and at Southampton College.

He retired from teaching in 1984 and became a full-time aerial photographer, having been active in the business during afternoons, weekends and summers beginning in 1973. His clientele were located on the North and South Forks, from Orient and Montauk to and into Nassau County. He worked solo in his own plane.

Predeceased by his wife, who for several years was editor of The Southampton Press. He is survived by his son, Southampton attorney Gilbert G. Flanagan, his daughter-in-law, Suzanne, his grandchildren, Melissa Flanagan Hayes and George P. Flanagan, his grandson-in-law, Daniel H. Hayes, and his great-grandson, Henry R. Hayes.

Information on a memorial service will follow at a later date to mark Flanagan’s 100th birthday.