Today we mourn the loss of three leaders in the civilian community who worked tirelessly to support military operations at Travis Air Force Base and beyond, and one who transformed the military at the national level.
Joe Rowan, a champion for local military retirees for decades, died in early August and was buried Friday. He joined the Army Air Corps early in World War II and remained in the military until retirement. Then he really got busy – spending the rest of his life helping fellow retirees and their families get access to benefits.
Meanwhile, Fred Lewis – president of the Travis Heritage Center and longtime board member of the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum – died Tuesday in a plane crash in Paradise. Lewis spent much of his adult life promoting the Air Force’s heritage, including flying a World War II-era Mitchell bomber cross-country in his final week. He was in the Air Force from 1976 until 2007 and, like Rowan, applied the lessons learned to civilian life.
A memorial ceremony took place Friday at the Copart hangar at the Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville.
Michael Gonzalez, a Marine Corps veteran of campaigns in the South Pacific and North China during World War II, died Aug. 9. He was a staunch supporter of the military here in Solano County and was active with the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee and with the Travis Regional Armed Forces Committee.
Services were Thursday in Vacaville.
Finally, and of particular note to the Air Force community, we acknowledge the death this week of David C. Jones, a retired Air Force general who helped set in motion a far-reaching reorganization of the U.S. military command while serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The general, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 1978 to 1982, died last weekend but his death wasn’t announced until midweek.
Jones was a visionary who recommended a sweeping reorganization of the nation’s military command, moving to strengthen the chairman’s role while curbing rivalry among the services. Those recommendations soon became law and streamlined the military chain of command.
We are saddened by each of their deaths, but we celebrate lives that were lived well.