Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
John Merl Elkins, Brigadier General/CMSgt., USAF (Retired)April 20, 1930 – May 21, 2011
John Merl Elkins went to be with his Lord on May 21, 2011.
Funeral services will be held at 3:00 PM, Tuesday, May 24, 2001 at Trinity Lighthouse Church in Denison, TX. Waldo Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Family visitation will be Monday, May 23rd from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at Waldo Funeral Home.
John was born April 20, 1930, at Joliet Illinois. Parents were John Marion Elkins and Harriet Rose Davison Elkins. When John was 4 years old, he and his family were relocated from Naperville, Illinois to Commerce, Texas.
On June 24, 1950, John married Erna Maye Huie of Cooper, Texas. They have three daughters, Carolyn Williams and husband John, Charla Edwards and husband Dennis and Cheryl Elkins and fiancé Dusty Miller. Nine grandchildren: Amy Karyl Williams Lovelace, Sara Chumbley Stevens, Jamie Chumbley Khammash, Jessica Chumbley, & Jill Chumbley Puente (triplets), Ashlea Brown and Chase Brown, Cade and Halten Miller. Two great-grandsons Zachary Lovelace and Collin Stevens and four great-granddaughters Madisyn Lovelace, Avery Robertson, Kendall Stevens and Taylor Khammash.
General Elkins graduated with an Associate Degree in Fine Arts from Grayson County College, Denison, Texas on May 17, 1974, graduated with Bachelor of Education on May 16, 1975 & Certified by Texas and Oklahoma as a High School Teacher, and Master of Behavioral Science and Counseling degrees on July 16, 1978 from Southeastern Oklahoma State University at Durant, Oklahoma.
John was a member of the faculty and staff administrator, Grayson County Community College Denison, Texas. Duties included personal and educational counseling, veteran’s affairs and director of educational and professional testing.
General Elkins enlisted in the Texas Defense Guard served one year and then on May 6, 1946 enlisted in United States Army Air Corps. Completed basic training at Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls, Texas. Completed aircraft and engine school and B-25 medium bomber schools at Keesler Field, Mississippi. First overseas assignment was Territory of Hawaii, Island of Oahu with the 81st Fighter Group as crew chief on a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. In 1949, volunteered for the U.S. Army to attend parachutist and glider school at Fort Benning, Georgia. Assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in aviation section of division artillery. Took an early out and returned to the Texas National Guard at Greenville, Texas. Transferred to United States Air Force Reserve at Hensley Field, Grand Prairie, Texas. My unit, the 443rd Troop Carrier Group was called to active duty for duty in the Korean War. Trained at Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina for special training as flight engineer. Sent to Korea in 1952. Served during 1952-53 in the Korean War as a flight engineer on C-46 Commando cargo airplane. Transported military personnel, battle support equipment and ammunition to locations in South Korea. Also participated in troop, equipment and flare drops over enemy territory. Flew medical air evacuations of military wounded in Korean action, and “operation body bag” these sorties delivered deceased military to Pusan Air Base, South Korea for shipment to their home town for burial.
John returned to Perrin Air Force Base, Denison, Texas to be released from active military service. Re-enlisted in the regular United States Air Force. Assigned to Air Force Reserve Recruiting Service Headquarters at Paris, Texas for a year and a half. Transferred to Edward Gary Air Force Base at San Marcos, Texas for helicopter training school. The Air Base closed a year later. He was reassigned to Strategic Air Command’s Second bombardment Wing, Hunter Air Force Base, Savannah, Georgia.
At Hunter Air Force Base, John was assigned as an aircraft quality control inspector on KC-97 aerial tankers and B-47 Boeing-built medium bombers. He made many Strategic Air Command world-wide deployments to North Africa, Labrador, and Goose Bay Labrador and other worldwide deployments. Was promoted to Master Sergeant. Applied for and was selected for assignment to the 43rd Bombardment Wing at Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, Texas. Carswell AFB was another Strategic Air Command base where he was trained as a maintenance supervision of the Convair (General Dynamics) Fort Worth Plant-built B-58 Hustler supersonic jet bombers.
General Elkins was ordered back to overseas with assignment at Osan Air Base, South Korea for 13 months. He was aircraft maintenance superintendent and line chief, and was promoted to Senior Master Sergeant. During assignment, John was selected for special assignment serving as an official United Nations observer during three of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission meetings at Panmunjom, Korea. Meetings were between of the United Nations, South Korea, North Korea and China following a series of alleged violations of the longest armistice in the history of wars.
He returned to Carswell Air Force Base. Ft Worth, Texas and assigned as an aircraft maintenance superintendent with the B-52 Bomber “Arc-Light Bomber Force.” Was deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Participated in the Iron Bomb uploading, launch, and recovery of the giant B52 jet bombers for nuclear alert as well as for missions dropping “iron” bombs on targets across Vietnam. He was awarded the 4th United States Air Force Commendation Medal for service in the B-52 “Arc Light” bomber force.
John completed United States Air Force recruiting school at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
Assigned to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as USAF Recruiting detachment 409 operations superintendent. Was promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. When the USAF recruiting assignment tour was completed, was assigned to Perrin Air Force Base, Denison, Texas. Served at 4780th Aerospace Defense Wing Sergeant Major, and upon the base closing of the Perrin AFB, he retired from USAF Active Duty on January 1, 1971.
His awards and decorations include: United States Armed Forces Meritorious Service Medal, United States Air Force Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, United Nations Service Medal for Korea; Air Force Presidential Unit Citation with three oak leaf clusters, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with three battle stars, United States Air Force Good Conduct Medal, United States Air Force Overseas Service Ribbon, United States Air Force Longevity Service Award, Texas Adjutant General Individual Award with two stars, Texas State Guard Service Medal, The State of Texas Federal Service Medal, certified Command Pilot Wings in the Civil Air Patrol.
While employed as personal and educational counselor at Grayson County Community College, Denison, Texas, he was appointed by the Governor of Texas as a Commissioned Officer in the Texas Military Forces as a volunteer advisor. Colonel Elkins retired from active status as the Commander of the 7th Military Police Group, having served twenty years of military service. For distinguished service, prior to, during and after active duty retirement, Colonel Elkins was brevet promoted to Brigadier General in the Texas National Guard of the State of Texas on June 29, 2005 by the Honorable Rick Perry, Governor of the State of Texas.
He was co-founder of the Perrin Field Historical Society, leading to the creation of the Perrin Air Force Base Historical Museum. The museum’s grand opening of their new building called a ”labor of love” completed on Valentine’s Day February 14, 2004. Since the Perrin Air Force Base Historical Museum’s inception, he continues to serve as Operations director and curator of the museum located at 4575 Airport Drive, North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field, Denison, Texas 75020-8710. The museum doubled the size of its building in 2005 in order to display the continued acquisition of Perrin Air Force Base memorabilia. More than 1000 public school and home-schooled-children tour the museum annually from northeastern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma (See website: www.perrinfield.org).
In view of the expansion of the Perrin Air Force Base Museum entailed a new and larger building. On October 23, 2009, a request was presented to Grayson County Community College President and Board of Trustee for a long-time lease of a couple of acres on their “west campus,” located on former Perrin Air Force Base west of the main campus. On December 2, 2009, approval was made by the Grayson County Community College Board of Trustees to least 1.62 acres on the “west” campus for fifty years. The construction of the new facility is underway with completion expected in mid-summer 2010.
Elkins was retired from the Civil Air Patrol, Auxiliary of the United States Air Force on April 20, 2009 after sixty two years beginning in 1947 while serving in the United States Army Air Corps in the Territory of Hawaii. He has served as advisor for the Texoma Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol located on North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field since 1969 when he arrived at Perrin Air Force Base, Denison, Texas.
Other volunteer services include Grayson County Commission for both Texas and Grayson County’s Sesquicentennial celebrations, He was capsule “engineer-designer” and preparedness for its the burial of Grayson County Sesquicentennial 100-year-time-capsule weighing 1,500 pounds. It was buried in the east lawn of Grayson County Courthouse in December 1986. To be opened in 2086!
He continued to this day as an active member of the Grayson County Commission on the Texas Sesquicentennial, the Bi-centennial of the Constitution of The United States, Grayson County Millennium Commission, and many and varied other civic projects of the commission in all of its public service and volunteerism.
Back in 1980, John was elected as a Board of Education/Trustee of the Tom Bean Independent School District. He served as secretary of the board. Served as chairman of the Tom Bean High School Principal’s advisory committee. Was appointed and served as the municipal judge for the City of Luella.
General Elkins continued as an active advocate for military veterans, and military retirees, their spouses, dependents, widows, and orphaned children while seeking entitlements and benefits in health care, education programs and burial services. For more than thirty years, he was an active participant in acquiring congressional enactment of the “Tricare –For-Life” law which provides quality health care for military retirees and their dependents.
He was an active member of the Military Service Academy Board, appointed by United States Congressman Ralph M. Hall. Congressman Hall serves the Fourth Congressional District of Texas. The board meets annually to evaluate academic records, community involvements, employment, and a personal interview of each military service academy applicant followed by an interview with their parents. Mission is to select the best of the best as principals and alternates to be congressionally nominated for the United States Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and/or the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Since Perrin Field’s closing in 1971, he has chaired BI-annual reunions where hundreds of former Perrin people from all over the U.S. attended. Elkins has been the keynote speaker on many Sherman and Denison Memorial Day Ceremonies, Veterans’ Day at Fair Park Veteran’s Memorial, and at Military funerals for the past quarter century. A life member of the National Guard Association of Texas, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Hella Shrine of Dallas, Phi Delta Kappa, and Southeastern Oklahoma State University Alumni. Member of Trinity Lighthouse Church in Denison, Texas.
General Elkins was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers including his twin brother.
The family wishes to thank: Dr. Van Buskirk, Nurse Stefanie Riley, Social Worker Kiti (Kasey) Miller, Chaplain Rev. Sheryl Myers, Patient Care Coordinator; medicine delivery, Donna Pack, Michelle Nash and all dedicated supporting care givers of Grayson Home Hospice. Memorials in lieu of flowers, the family ask you contribute in John’s name directly to home Hospice of Grayson County, P O Box 2306, Sherman, TX 75091-2306, Trinity Lighthouse Church Youth Program, 2915 W. Spur 503, Denison, TX 75020 and/or The Perrin Air Force Base Historical Museum, NTRA-Perrin Field, 435 McCullum Avenue, Denison, TX 75020.
NOTE: Brigadier General Elkins comes from a dedicated military family; His father served in World War One. Five of his brothers are military retirees. His grandson completed Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on August 3, 2007.
Countries served by the Elkins family includes: France, German, North Africa, Pacific Theater, Labrador, England, Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Territory of Hawaii. Three brothers retired from the United States Air Force and two brothers retired from the United States Army.
Total dedication to God and Country in the uniformed services of the United States by the Elkins family adds up to more than 147 years of dedicated service defending God Almighty’s divine guidance for freedom in the United States of America. Published in The Herald Democrat on May 24, 2011