Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Clair M. Gilk, Colonel, USAF (Retired)
September 23, 1962 – November 02, 2021
Clair M. Gilk, Colonel, United States Air Force (Retired), passed away suddenly on November 2, 2021 in North Carolina, after returning from a run. Clair was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia in 1962 to Lyle and Yvonne Gilk.
He grew up traveling the globe as an Air Force dependent. It was during this time that Clair discovered that he loved to run and that he wanted to fly. Clair graduated from Mountain Home High School, Idaho in 1980, and went on to the University of Idaho, where he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), and earned his private pilot’s license. Clair graduated from U of I in 1984, with honors, with a chemistry degree, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF.
He received his undergraduate pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama and upon graduation, realized his dream of becoming a military pilot. Clair’s first assignment was Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where he met the love of his life, Danita McAllister, Lt Colonel USAF (Retired). They were married in 1990 and over the next 31 years, they would travel the world sharing in many adventures.
Clair served in operational assignments as a special operations and rescue flight lead, instructor/evaluator pilot and weapons officer. He led rescue missions in many countries, including combat sorties during operations JUST CAUSE and DESERT STORM. Additionally, he served as Squadron Commander of the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico and Group Commander of the 316th Operations Group at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. He was an initial member of the Air Force Special Operations Command, initial cadre of the HH-60G Division at the USAF Weapons School, and the first Air Force Technical Fellow at Argonne National Laboratories. Additionally, he served as a policy advisor in the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office at the Pentagon and as a faculty instructor at the US Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. In 2012 he retired from the Air Force as a Colonel and Command Pilot with over 5,000 flying hours, with over 100 in combat.
During his distinguished career he received many meritorious awards and citations, some of which include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit with two oak leaf clusters and AF Outstanding Unit with seven oak leaf clusters.
Clair is survived by his wife Danita, his mother Yvonne, his mother in law Rubye McAllister, his sister Donna Carino (Ray), his brother Barry (Fredia), his Aunt Babe (Ralph), his Uncle Arlon (Claudia), the five Ds, and numerous, nieces, nephews, and friends. Services are pending at this time.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to That Others May Live Foundation at https:/www.thatothersmaylive.org FB post by Tommy Herndon 08 Nov 2021.
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