Lt. Col. (ret) John (Jack) William West, Jr.
8 March 1936 - 11 October, 2019
Jack was born March 8 1936 in Washington, D.C.. He was raised in Washington, D.C. and suburbs of MD and VA.
Ginnie was born in the same hospital 15 months later.
We were to meet 21 years later when seniors at the U. of MD. Jack always said it was "a God thing".
Jack was in ROTC & decided on a career in the Air Force. He wanted to be a fighter pilot. When he took the physical for entry, his sitting height was 1/2-inch too tall for the fighter jets of those days. The doctor told Jack he could be a navigator, but nobody knew what navigators did!
Our honeymoon was a road trip to Lackland AFB, San Antonio TX, where Jack entered the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. After 1 month of preflight training we moved on to Waco, TX for navigation training.
Just short of a year later, our first daughter, Lisa, was born July 3, 1960, and Jack was assigned to operational duty at Donaldson AFB, Greenville, S.C., upon graduating from nav training. Off we went in a 1949 Plymouth from TX to SC when Lisa was 1 week old -- no disposable diapers, no car seats, no seat belts, & no A/C.
Shortly after their arrival at Donaldson AFB, Jack was sent on a mission to the Belgian Congo during the uprising in the Congo in July 1960. The crew were given pistols and no ammunition. They hid the guns! Jack got checked out as a full-fledged navigator and began his career flying in many airplanes and many different missions at various bases. He flew in the C-124 (Old Shaky), C-130, C-118, RB-50, reconnaissance C-130, & C-135.
After 18 months in transport at Donaldson AFB, Jack was assigned to Rhein Main, Germany, in early 1962 to a reconnaissance squadron, flying secret missions along the borders of Russia and Iran. He would go to Turkey TDY and spend 2 weeks flying recon missions. It was only just recently that we began to hear his stories of some of these harrowing adventures. Our second daughter, Amy, was born in Germany April 21, 1963.
After 3 years of flying reconnaissance missions, Jack was assigned to a Photo Mapping squadron at Turner AFB, Albany GA in 1965. He flew various airplanes and was sent TDY for 3 months to South America and a Pacific island called Eniwetok. After 2 years in Georgia, the base closed and Jack's squadron was reassigned to Forbes AFB, Topeka, KS.
After 2 years in Kansas and a total of 4 years in Photo Mapping, Jack received another overseas assignment to Yokota AFB, Japan in 1969. Jack's missions were flying out of Vietnam along the borders of Laos, North Korea, and China. These reconnaissance missions were all secret at the time. We could see Mt. Fuji from our living room window on a clear day. We attended Expo 60 and took and extensive trip throughout Japan before returning to the U.S.
In 1972 we arrived in southern CA at Norton AFB for another assignment in transport planes. Every time Jack went to a different base, he changed planes and had to learn a new system. We resided off-base in Redlands & made our first trip to Disneyland. While at Norton and after 15 years of flying, Jack moved to a desk job and became Chief of Services. Little did we know this would lead to an isolated tour. In 1975 Jack received orders to Osan AFB, South Korea, where he served as Chief of Services for a 1-year isolated tour.
Upon Jack's return from Korea in 1976, he was assigned to Castle AFB, Atwater, CA, where he again was Chief od Services. During his time at Castle, the Services division was made a squadron. Thus, Jack became squadron commander.
In 1980 Jack retired from the Air Force after 20-1/2 years of dedicated service with the rank of Lt. Col.. During his tenure at Castle, he received the Outstanding Senior Services Manager first runner up award from Headquarters USAF. This award was worldwide for all Engineering and Services squadrons. Jack received the Air Medal with multiple oak leaf clusters, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal, in addition to many others. He completed 3 survival schools, each relating to the location to which he was assigned. These schools were for survival as a POW, winter survival in the Sierra Nevada's, jungle survival in the Philippines in preparation for the Vietnam assignment, and water survival. We made so many dear friends throughout his Air Force career. Those friends were our family away from home, and we treasure them to this day.
Upon AF retirement, he went to work for a new bank in Merced, CA, started by a group of Christian businessmen. Within a year, he was promoted to manager of a new branch of the bank to be opened in Atwater. Jack stayed with the bank 6 years before accepting a position with New Your Life. After 4 years with New York Life, he earned a teaching credential and taught fourth grade in Livingston, CA for 10 years. This was a special time in his life and a job he loved in a special way. He has many teaching stories and was loved by his students.
Upon moving to Merced, we began to attend a church that preached the Good News of Jesus. At the age of 40, Jack became a follower of Jesus. His love of his Savior was evident. He fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith.
In 2002, we moved to Vacaville to be near our 2 daughters, sons-in-law, and 5 grandchildren who happen to live on the same street, doors apart. We bought a home 1 mile from our kids and have loved being here in Vacaville near our family.
Once we got settled in our new home, Jack began an in-depth personal Bible study of the Book of John. When he completed John, he did a study of Romans and Hebrews.
Jack enjoyed reading and studying the financial market and enjoyed investing. He was very successful in his investments and was able to help each of his 5 grandchildren complete college. He aspired to do this and succeeded. He also enjoyed donating his financial gains to Christian organizations and missionaries.
On June 7 2016, Jack underwent a quadruple bypass surgery. The recovery was long and painful for many months. Unfortunately, Jack was short of breath after the surgery and never regained the ability to breathe normally. He completed 3 months of Medicare cardiac rehab and then continued the rehab program for another year. Near the end of that last year, he became weaker and more fatigued, leaving him unable to maintain the strength he had gained. Eventually, in early 2018, he entered assisted living at Cornerstone in Vacaville.
Our life together was filled with so much fun & adventure. We took 1 cruise to Alaska, and many road trips in the USA. We drove cross country every year from 2001 to 2009 to Washington, D.C. .We followed the route of the 49er taking the train to Denver, renting a car and driving to Nebraska, then picking up the trail and driving back west, seeing many historical sites. We toured Vancouver, Canada, and Victoria Island, Glacier National Park, Washington State, Oregon, & California. There were many day-trips to the coast, staying in B&B's. We did a lot of hiking and back-packed in the Sierras for many years, enjoying the beautiful views of God's magnificent creation, fishing and drinking the spring and creek water when it was safe to drink. We also enjoyed downhill and cross-country skiing in our younger days.
God blessed me with 60 wonderful years of marriage to Jack. On Oct. 11 2019, I had to relinquish Jack back to God. He is with his precious Lord Jesus.
Jack's Personal Testimony:
"I spent 40 years in the wilderness before realizing that I had no chance of getting into Heaven if God is really the just God He says He is. I always went to church and thought of myself as a Christian, but I did not know Jesus and had no relationship with Him. In 1977 my whole family and I gave our hearts to Jesus. I finally realized that my sins were taking me straight to Hell, but that God offered me an eternal life with Him if I would accept a relationship based on His grace and forgiveness, and Jesus' payment in full for the penalty due to for my sins. My whole family turned from the world and turned to faith in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. I thank Jesus every day for saving my family. I, who deserve death, am saved from death by an innocent man and God who died in my place in order to cleanse me from the unrighteousness I have practiced. Now I want to live a life worthy of the faith God has shown to me. I hope that my life and deeds can in some small way bring glory unto Him"