Duckworth, Kenneth J.

Kenneth J. Duckworth, Lt. Colonel., USAF (Retired)
November 03, 1940 – June 14, 2010

Patriot, Defender, Father, and Friend

Born November 3, 1940 in Philadelphia to Stanley and Regina Duckworth. He attended Saint Joseph’s Preparatory before graduating from the Naval Academy in 1962 and earning a commission into the Air Force, where he served 28 years of combined active and reserve duty.

Lieutenant Colonel Duckworth piloted B-47 nuclear bombers, C-130 transports, and the CH-3 “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter. From 1967 to 1968 he flew search and rescue and other operations in Vietnam to support U.S. Marines at Khe Sanh and interdict the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He is credited with rescuing many downed pilots and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in flight, and two Air Medals.

From 1971 to 1990 he served with the 301st Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Homestead Air Force Base. There he trained water survival and participated in numerous search and rescue operations, to include the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 in 1972, retrieving the ill from cruise ships, and supporting space shuttle launches.

A staunch advocate of the Bill of Rights and helping the downtrodden, Ken graduated with a Juris Doctorate from the University Of Miami Law School in 1972. He specialized in criminal law in both Dade and Broward County for over 25 years. He provided free legal assistance to Hurricane Andrew victims, and provided legal defense in the highly reported 1993 Bobby Kent murder trial.

In his later years, Ken found joy as a Broward County Schools substitute teacher. He especially enjoyed helping middle school special needs children. He was still enjoying this calling when he passed in an auto accident on Flag Day, 14 June.

Throughout life, Mr. Duckworth thoroughly enjoyed sports of all types. He rowed, ran marathons, and coached. His particular passions remained the Phillies and the Army-Navy football game. He approached life with great humor, optimism, and compassion.

Kenneth J. Duckworth is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Joan, of 45 years, his children Kenneth Christopher, Rebecca, and Eric as well as four grandchildren. He is also survived by sisters, Jane Becker and Denise Tumelty of Philadelphia.

Services will be Tuesday, June 22 at Fred Hunter’s, 2401 South University Drive, Davie. Visitation begins at 4pm with memorial service at 5:30 pm. A memorial mass will be held Wednesday, at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, 5601 South Flamingo Road at 10am.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial tribute to the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation.


Jun 22, 2010
Duck and I graduated from USNA together though we were in different companies. It turned out that we went to Law School together, although he graduated 6 mo. before me. Used to bump into him at the Courthouse. A great guy with always a friendly smile who will truly be missed by all who knew him.
Jerry Schreiber

Jun 22, 2010
Flyer’s Prayer
When this life I’m in is done,
And at the gates I stand,
My hope is that I answer all
His questions on command.
I doubt He’ll ask me of my fame,
Or all the things I knew, Instead,
He’ll ask of rainbows sent
On rainy days I flew.
The hours logged, the status reached,
The ratings will not matter.
He’ll ask me if I saw the rays
And how He made them scatter.
Or what about the droplets clear,
I spread across your screen?
And did you see the twinkling eyes.
If student pilots keen?
The way your heart jumped in your chest,
That special solo day-
Did you take time to thank the one
Who fell along the way?
Remember how the runway lights
Looked one night long ago
When you were lost and found your way,
And how-you still don’t know?
How fast, how far, how much, how high?
He’ll ask me not these things
But did I take the time to watch
The Moonbeams wash my wings?
And did you see the patchwork fields
And mountains I did mold;
The mirrored lakes and velvet hills,
Of these did I behold?
The wind he flung along my wings,
On final almost stalled.
And did I know I it was His name,
That I so fearfully called?
And when the goals are reached at last,
When all the flyings done,
I’ll answer Him with no regret-
Indeed, I had some fun.
So when these things are asked of me,
And I can reach no higher,
My prayer this day – His hand extends
To welcome home a Flyer.

Jun 21, 2010
I only knew Duck for a couple of years at the 301st at Homestead, but I can assure all he was one of the finest pilots and good guys I ever met.!!!!!

Integrity, Honor, and Respect
Some of the best things cannot be bought, they must be earned

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