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May 18, 1919 - November 14, 2012 OKLAHOMA CITY John A. Wallach, COL, USAF, RET, passed away Wed., Nov. 14, 2012. He was born May 18, 1919 in Helvetia, PA to Joseph and Susana Valach. He grew up a devout Catholic in Manchaug, MA along with his brother and 4 sisters. As a boy, John knew the meaning of hard work, often holding two jobs in addition to his schooling and participation in sports. It was his love of baseball which made him occasionally skip school with his buddies and hitchhike to Boston to watch Babe Ruth play. Besides sports, his hobbies included art, photography and golf. John received a scholarship to study art at Worchester Art Museum after graduation from Sutton High as Valedictorian. On Feb. 14, 1939, John enlisted and was assigned to 5th Inf., Fort Preble, ME. He was one of two selected for USAF in May 1939 and sent to Hawaii. In 1940, he graduated first in his class from Armament School. In Jan. 1941, he graduated from training as a Bombardier. With the famed Colin Kelly as his flight leader, John was one of the few men who made the historic trip in B-17s from Hickam Field to Clark Field, via Midway and Wake Island. As part of the 19th Bombardment Group Squadron he participated in many famous aerial strikes including battles of Makassar Straits and Coral Seas. He helped destroy the oil fields on the Sumatra and strategic Japanese installations in Malaya. He flew a total of 69 missions and 800 combat hours. His Aircraft B-17, the Swoose, is currently being restored at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio. John graduated from USAF Pilot School in June 1944 and was assigned to San Angelo, TX as base armament officer. He then went to Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls, TX, as squadron training officer and later squadron commander. From there he was assigned to Boca Raton, FL to set up a processing station in the Caribbean. After graduation from Air Tactical School in Panama City, FL, John was assigned to Chanute AFB, IL, as Personnel Director of the 3499th Mobile Training Wing. In March 1952, he was assigned to HQ, USAFE, Weisbaden, Germany and then reassigned to Rhein Main, Germany, as Director of Personnel of Troop Carrier Wing. In Feb. 1953, the Troop Carrier Wing transferred to Neubiberg, Germany, where John continued as director of personnel until he returned to the States in 1955 as a student at Air Command and Staff College. After graduation in 1956, he served as Chief of the Plans and Programs Branch for Military Personnel at the Pentagon. In July 1959, John was transferred to Travis AFB as Assistant Director of Personnel of Western Transport Air Force followed by a reassignment in Aug. 1960 to the USAF Aero Medical Evacuation Group in San Antonio, TX. In Aug. 1962, he was reassigned to Spangdahlem, Germany as Director of Personnel of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing. In Aug. 1965, John returned to USAF Military Personnel Center at Randolph Field, TX, serving as the Chief of Personnel Assistance Team, then as Chief of Personnel Assistance Division, MPC, and finally as Chief of USAF Enlistment Branch. His final assignment was Director of Personnel, Tinker Air Force Base in Okla., from May 19, 1968 to his retirement on June 30, 1972 after 33 years, 4 months and 16 days of active duty. In the course of his long and distinguished career, John was awarded 2 Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Air Force Commendation Medals, 3 Presidential Unit Citations, plus 14 other ribbons and metals. In addition to his military training, John attended several universities including: Univ. of Miami, FL; Univ. of Maryland; Univ. of Illinois; and Okla. City Univ. John was preceded in death by his first wife, Dixie (Day) Wallach and son, Ross Wallach. He was also preceded in death by his 2nd wife, Chris (Koos) Wallach. He is survived by his son, Micheal Wallach; daughter, Susan Booker (Jim); 3 step-daughters, Duckie Neely, Deborah Fehrenbach (Steve), Pamela Koos (Casey); and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. John lived life to the fullest and will be truly missed by all who knew and loved him. He loved the Lord and always gave of himself to help those in need, especially the hungry. He was a wonderful husband and great father. America has not only lost a true hero but also a great man. Services will be held on Sat., Nov. 17, 2012, at 11:00am at Arlington Memory Gardens in Midwest City, OK. To share a memory or condolence, visit www.mercer-adams.com www.mercer-adams.com
Published in The Oklahoman on Nov. 16, 2012
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