Flew West 2020
salute for those lost in 2020
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- VANEK, Gerald Leroy "Peach" Lt. Col. (retired), who flew O-1s as a Rash FAC for the 21TASS in 1967, went west on August 2, 2020.
Gerald Leroy "Peach" Vanek, 88, passed away peacefully at home on August 2, 2020. He was born October 25, 1931 in Prague, Nebraska, the middle son of William and Rose Zeleny Vanek. He loved telling stories about spending his early years working on the family farm as a "chicken herder". After his family left the farm and moved to town, he worked at his father's recreational parlor, making milkshakes and coaxing others to challenge him to a game of pool. He graduated in 1949 from Schuyler High School, and began working for the railroad as a telegrapher. He entered the Air Force as an Airman Basic in March 1952 at Lackland AFB, Texas, and was soon selected for pilot training as an Aviation Cadet. It was while he was in training at Williams AFB in Arizona that he was set up on a blind date with a lovely young student at the University of Arizona named Shirley Malone. They were married in January 1954 and he received his wings and commission as a Second Lieutenant in April 1954. Upon completing F-86 Gunnery Training at Nellis AFB he was assigned to Foster AFB, Victoria, Texas. His unit, the 452nd Fighter Day Squad, was the first to deploy non-stop to Europe with mid-air refueling over the Atlantic for the F 100. He was then assigned as an F-100 instructor pilot at Luke AFB, AZ followed by an overseas assignment to RAF Lakenheath, England as a flight commander and operations officer for the 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, USAFE. He returned to the US and was assigned to Air Training Command at Reese AFB, Texas. He served in the 3501st Pilot Training Squadron as a flight commander and T-38 Operations Officer. His love of flying and devotion to country led him to volunteer to fly combat in Vietnam in 1967. He was a Forward Air Controller with the 1st Air Cavalry Division in II Corps where he flew the 0-1's. Later that year he was reassigned to Bien Hoa, RVN and the 531 Tactical Fighter Squadron, the "Ramrods" of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing. He flew a total of 315 combat missions in the 0-1E and F-100D's. After returning from Vietnam he was assigned to Naples, Italy in June 1967 and began a tour with NATO and Airsouth. As a member of the multi-national evaluation team he traveled throughout Southern Europe visiting British, Greek, Italian, and Turkish tactical fighter units. He was reassigned to Bergstrom AFB, Texas, in 1971 as the Chief of Current Operations in the 602nd Tactical Control Center Squadron. He proudly earned his Bachelors Degree in Business at the University of Nebraska at Omaha through the Bootstrap Program in1973. In 1976, while still at Bergstrom AFB, he was transferred to the 727th Tactical Control Squadron as the OIC of Test and Evaluation for the purpose of operationally testing an automated Tactical Air Control System. In 1978 Lt. Col. Vanek was appointed as Commander, Detachment 1 Air Ground Operations School. He retired from the Air Force in 1979, after logging in 4588 hours of flying time with 460 of those hours flown in combat. His numerous military awards and decorations include 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 17 Air Medals, Joint Services Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He began a second successful career as a real estate agent and broker with his wife, Shirley. He spent many years with Century 21, earning honors as a top agent and broker. Throughout his years in the Air Force and the real estate business, he traveled to visit family and friends, attended high school and Air Force reunions, and maintained his hobbies. He enjoyed membership with several military aviation
organizations, which included the Order of Daedalians, Quiet Birdmen, and the Super-Saber Society. He
was an accomplished woodworker and carpenter (never met a tool he didn't love), and spent time crafting tables, chairs, birdhouses, etc. for family and friends, or as he called it, making sawdust and toothpicks. He loved gardening and canned most of the cucumbers he grew, made the best pickled fish, and was the family car mechanic (we called him the car god). He was quite the outdoorsman and loved hunting and fishing trips with his brothers, sons, sons-in-law, and friends. Enjoying his time with the family at the lake with a fishing rod in one hand and a cold drink in the other was his idea of what retirement was supposed to be. To his family he was, and always will be a leader, role model, hero, outdoorsman, and fix-it man. His beloved wife Shirley passed away on December 13, 2017, just shy of their 64th wedding anniversary. During his remaining days, he enjoyed the many visits from his family and friends, all the while missing the love of his life. He didn't want to leave us but he wanted to see our mother again. He is survived by his children Jeff (Cheryl) Vanek, Zoe Vanek, Karen (Bill) Hoover, Julie Thompson, Mark (Patty Bruner) Vanek, Brian (Claudine) Vanek, and David Vanek; grandchildren Brandon (Sarah), Jhett (Airianne), Alex (Claudine), Sara (Matt), Scott, Tanner, Jarett, Cade, Reece, and Taryn; great-grandchildren Azi, Ava, Hunter, Henryk, and Helena; sisters in-law and brothers-in-law; and numerous nieces and nephews. His beloved wife, Shirley, his parents, his brothers Don and Dave, and his loving son-in-law Jim Thompson preceded him in death. The family wishes to thank Visiting Angels, especially Ernestine and Daisy, for the exceptional care and respect for our father. Jerry will be dearly missed and can be honored in memorial contributions to the Air Force Aid Society, the Daedalian Foundation, or the cause that speaks to your heart. Jerry's ashes will be interred with military honors at Remembrance Gardens in Austin, Texas. The family will host a memorial celebration of life at a later date.
- 07/23/2020: George P. Tynan, Cagey 02 took his last flight on 16 Jul 2020. George flew O-1s and O-2s Jan 68 thru Feb 69 for the 21st TASS out of Nha Trang. He was a life member.
Col. George Patrick Tynan (Retired USAF) passed away from natural causes on July 16, 2020 at the age of 91. As a teenager in 1944, George flew a Stearman Bi-plane for the first time…he got hooked on aviation. After High School he served in the US Marines from 1946-1948. He attended the University of Miami on the GI Bill and received a Commission in 1951 and served in the US Air Force from 1951-1980. In the Air Force he was a; Radar Operator, Navigator, Bombardier, Test Pilot, an Astronaut Candidate at NASA during the Apollo Missions, Commanded the 68th Bombardment Wing at Johnson AFB in North Carolina (B-52 aircraft), and the 416th Bombardment Wing at Griffiss AFB in New York (B-52 aircraft), Director of Operations at the Strategic Air Command, and the Deputy Inspector General at the Pentagon. He flew 468 missions in the Korean Conflict and Vietnam, and had over 17,600 hours of flying time. George claimed that he had three combat tours; two in Southeast Asia and one at the Pentagon. George was awarded the Legion of Merit (5 times), the Distinguished Flying Cross (2 times), the Bronze Star, and 18+ other Air Medals. He retired in 1980 from the Air Force and continued flying in the corporate world until 1992. During his full retirement he dedicated his time to the Model A Ford antique car hobby.
- 07/23/2020: John M. Roberson, Nail 20, Tamale 17/52 flew west on 19 May 2020. John served two tours as a FAC, May 67-68 in O-1s for the 19th TASS and Nov 73-74 OV-10 out of NKP. He was a life member.
- 07/23/2020: Frederick W. Lindahl, Speedy01, and Barky 07 passed on 27 Oct 2018. Fred flew O-2s out of Quan Tri and Hue Phu Bai for the 20th TASS.
- 06/29/2020: Just learned, David K. Burke, Col. USAF (Ret) Bomber 31 flew West on 09 Aug 2019. Dave served two tours. He flew O-1 for the 22nd TASS (68-68) and F-100 (70-71). He was a member.
As he was stepping out of his RV fell, and hit his head. He was taken to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs and passed that same evening. He became a pilot through ROTC and had more than 27 years of active service in Vietnam, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world. Dave also served in over 800 combat missions, over 1200 combat flying hours, and over 5,000 total flight hours in a variety of military and civilian aircraft. Dave flew F-100s with the 352nd TFS Phan Rang and was a valued member of the Super Saber Society (SSS) family. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1994 then served with the Civil Air Patrol as the Liaison Officer for Kansas and Missouri.
He was an Assistant Editor of the Super Sabre magazine The Intake from 2010-2016..A Celebration of Life Service was held Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 1 pm: The Williams Memorial Chapel, 237 Christian St, Point Lookout, MO. His obituary can be read at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/cjonline/obituary.aspx?n=col-david-k-burke-usaf-ret&pid=193967541
- 06/29/2020: Ernest Thomas Wightman O-1 FAC for the 22nd TASS and Medical Doctor flew West on 18 Jun 2020. His obituary can be read at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dfw/obituary.aspx?n=ernest-thomas-wightman-jr&pid=196414054
- 05/11/2020: Just learned, Major General Herbert J. Spier, Helix 42, took his last flight on 22 May 2019. He won a Silver Star, three DFCs and a Purple Heart. He was the commander of the "Chu Lai Yacht Club." Slow hand salute to true hero, a good friend and a good man. Here is a link to his obituary https://flannerbuchanan.com/obit/herbert-j-spier/.
- 04/25/2020: Just learned, Col. Robert Henry "Hank" Haden, Nail 80, took his last flight on 17 Nov 2014. For a link to his obituary click here. A belated slow hand salute for this fallen hero.
- 03/20/2020: Jon E "Wrobo" Wroblewski, Nail 58, took his last flight on 18 Mar 20 after a long stay in the hospital. Jon flew OV-10s for the 23 TASS.
Jayne sent out a note just a while ago. Jon, Nail 58ski, FAC extraordinaire, Shit Hot , He passed away last night in Colorado Springs after a long and complicated series of problems which destroyed his body. Jayne was right there with him as he slipped away. Jon was one of the Buds in the Nails late 1972 - 73, and was a Cambodia rat. He was a great guy, highly spirited, and wore the cape - you Nails will understand. He thought that he was something else at the 4-5-6 table, but we know the truth. Did anybody ever cash that check? Jon, was a great lifetime friend and I shall miss him so. I was looking forward to bringing him and Jayne to the FAC Reunion in Sept and I know that he was looking forward to it too.
No details yet on services. All is complicated by the COVID-19 reality.
Jayne can be reached at email@example.com
A slow and tearful hand salute to a dear and very special friend and fellow combat aviator..
- 03/18/2020: Wayne D. Bradley, Nail 46 and Ascot 10, took his last flight on 16 Oct 2019. Wayne flew O-2s for the 23 TASS out of NKP and Phan Rang Sep 67-68. Although Wayne passed in 2019, we just learned of his passing.
- 01/23/2020: Slow hand salute for Donald R. Brown, Nail 32, 1967-68. He flew O-1s and O-2s for the 23rd TASS out of NKP. Don took his final flight 18 February 2020.
- 01/23/2020: Robert E. "Bob" Hammond, Lt.Col. Retired, aka Shark 03, Mike 59, and Tonto 02, flew West 22 Jan 2020. Bob flew O-2s for the 25th Infantry Division out of LZ English and as a FAC out of BanMe Thout. He was a life member of our association. His obituary can be read at https://obits.nwfdailynews.com/obituaries/nwfdailynews/obituary.aspx?n=robert-hammond-bob&pid=195151904