NOTAM 08-2016 (Wallace) 02/28/2016
Golden Eagle NOTAM
CAPT Kenneth R. Wallace, USN (Ret)
Dear Golden Eagles,
It is my sad duty to inform you that CAPT Kenneth R. Wallace, USN (Ret), made his Last Take-Off on February 28, 2016 in Pensacola, FL. Ken was suffering from bladder cancer for several months and passed away about 11:30 AM on the 28th. Ken was born in Elizabethton, TN, on December 15, 1928, to Prince H. and Lucy G. (Thomas) Wallace.
He attended Elizabethton High School prior to enlisting on July 25, 1946, as an Apprentice Seaman in the Naval Reserve. After instruction in the V-5 Program at Milligan College in Tennessee, he was appointed Aviation Midshipman and in June 1948 reported for flight training at the Naval Air Training Command, Pensacola, FL. Designated a Naval Aviator on February 9, 1950, he was commissioned an Ensign USN, on June 2, 1950.
After receiving his wings, he joined Fighter Squadron VF-191 and during that assignment, he participated in two Korean combat cruises on board USS Princeton. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with combat “V” for a single flight on June 24, 1952. He was awarded the Air Medal with numeral 4 for completing eighty missions during the period December 6, 1950 to October 6, 1952. From there he went to Pensacola and became a member of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team and flew in the slot position during all of their airshows. Former Golden Eagle Pilot Bill Gureck flew on the same Blue Angel Team with Ken and they have remained best friends since that time together. In April 1956, he reported to VF-22 and served as Operations Officer for two years and then he transferred to VA-44 and served as an A-4 RAG Instructor to inspire more enthusiasm in the attack community. From August 1959 to June ’60, he was a student under the five term program at the University of Mississippi, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He then returned to duty with the Blue Angels, again flying the slot position, and on January 16, 1962, he became Officer in Charge of the Blue Angels. Under his leadership, the team performed before 6,502,600 viewers breaking all previous attendance records. In February 1964 he reported for instruction (Carrier air Technical Training Course) at the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Glynco, GA.
In May ’64 he joined the USS Midway, which was operating in the Vietnam area, to serve as Assistant Air Operations Officer until August 1965. During that deployment, the USS Midway was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. Ken spent the next five months in VF-121 as a student in the F-4 Phantom RAG and in March 1966, he reported as Executive Officer of VF-54, on board the USS Coral Sea. In October that year he assumed command of VF-54. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on two separate occasions on September 23, ’66 and November 21, ’66 for leading two very difficult missions. He was awarded gold stars in lieu of the fifth through the ninth Air Medals for a specific number of missions during the period September 13, ’66 to January 17, ’67. From May ’67 until May ’68, Ken served as Commander, Carrier Air Wing Fifteen aboard USS Coral Sea. He received another Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with combat “V” and another 9 Air Medals while he was CAG-15. His awards after flying 540 combat missions in two wars: 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star with combat “V’, 18 Air Medals, Navy Commendation Medal with combat “V”, and various Korean and Vietnam Service Medals.
As a Captain, he later completed a third tour with the Blue Angels, where he had the title of Program Manager (because he was too senior to be a CO). In that position he chose and modified the A-4 Skyhawk aircraft for the Blue Angel future shows and selected and trained new pilots for the 1973-74 season. He retired from the Navy in 1974 and became Chief Pilot for the American Express Company, flying Gulfstream II, III, IV, as well as the Falcon 50, Westwind II, and Sikorsky S-76 Helicopters. During his career he accumulated over 13,000 flight hours and 700 carrier landings.
Ken was married to the former Harriet C. Jenkins, of Elizabethton, TN, and they have four daughters, Vickie Leigh, Pamela Sue, Lisa Anne, and Nancy Kendra Wallace. The services for Ken will be held at Perdido Bay United Methodist Church, 13660 Innerarity Point Road, Pensacola, FL, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 12:30 PM. Interment will be at Barrancas National Cemetery, NAS Pensacola at 1405. An “Irish Wake” (Ken’s words) will follow interment at Perdido Bay Golf Club immediately upon conclusion of Barrancas honors. As Central Flight Leader Bob Rasmussen says, “We have lost a true one-of-a-kind aviator, a great friend and warrior”.
He will be missed!
In Sadness, Don Boecker-Pilot