Tributes & Stories

 

Obituary (CA): John Raymond Wilson Jr. '55

Posted on 06/25/2018

Rear Admiral John R. Smoke' Wilson, Jr., USN (Ret.) February 1933 - June 2018 Encinitas Rear Admiral John Raymond "Smoke" Wilson Jr., USN (Ret.) made his last take off on 11 June 2018 at the age of 85. He was surrounded by his loving family. John was born in 1933 in Glendale, California, to John and Leona Wilson, the second of three children. He was married to Constance Dale from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, for 60 years. Smoke graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1955 and was designated a naval aviator in 1956. Smoke's extraordinary career included three combat tours in Vietnam with 172 missions. As Air Wing 14 Commander he conducted the final flight operations of the Vietnam War. While serving at Pacific Missile Test Center, Pt. Mugu, CA, he was the first pilot to fire all four air-to-air weapons of the F14 and he made aviation history on November 21, 1973 as the only pilot to ever fire six missiles at six separate targets in what is known as the Phoenix "six-on-six" missile test. Highly decorated throughout his career, he retired on 1 July 1990 as the Chief of Naval Research. Even though his last 13 years were in non-flying jobs, Smoke amassed 4,500 flight hours in 106 different types of aircraft (multiple tours as a test pilot) including 1034 carrier traps (plus two rotary wing carrier landings) 223 at night. He had flown every aircraft type in the Navy Inventory as well as many others. Smoke was a core member of the group of volunteer fathers called "Lave Sus Manos" that constructed the first baseball fields for the Rancho Bernardo Little League and his sons were charter members. One of his fond memories was when he returned from an extended deployment to Vietnam and the Rancho Bernardo freeway sign displayed "Welcome Home Smoke... Lave Sus Manos!" In addition, Smoke restored old cars, enjoyed photography, was a master woodworker, and enjoyed watching his grandkids play sports. John was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Susan. At his request there will be no formal service and his ashes will be scattered at sea at a future date. John is survived by his wife Connie, brother Ralph, son Skip (Kathy), daughter Robin Offerdahl (Tim), son Bill (Teresa), daughter Julie Stofan (John), and ten beautiful grandchildren, Ryan, Jack, Jake, David, Kelli, Andrew, Jordan, Kyle, Rachel and Emma. We would like to give a special thank you to the amazing staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas for their exceptional care and to the Golden Eagles who were his best friends and the family's best support!

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on June 24, 2018