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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
David N. Gish, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)December 27, 1931 – November 12, 2019
Reno – Lieutenant Colonel David N. Gish, USAF (Ret), born in Jacksonville, Florida to Nicholas and Ona Mae Gish on December 27, 1931 passed peacefully on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 after a brave and arduous battle with Parkinson’s disease.
David attended Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville and later attended the University of Florida. He was a lifelong Florida Gator fan.
David’s love for flying began in the ninth grade, and led him to pursue his dreams as a pilot in the United States Air Force. His US Air Force career began in Big Springs, Texas. He went through pilot training at Graham Air Force base in Florida. He started flying fixed wing aircraft and then moved on to become a helicopter instructor and rescue pilot.
David was a Vietnam veteran who was decorated numerous times throughout his service. His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross for a mission flown to evacuate a Civil Actions Team out of a Vietnamese village that was occupied by a strong hostile force. This mission enabled over two thousand refugees to receive food and shelter. Many of his missions were flown under hostile fire and dedicated to the location and rescue of soldiers wounded in battle and aiding the civilian population.
Other honors include The Air Medal for Meritorious Achievement While Participating in Aerial Flight. David was recognized for spotting a downed pilot in the cold Atlantic while serving as a radar operator on the F-94C Starfire jet interceptor search plane. His last assignment in the Air Force was as the Chief of Military Police at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. This was an assignment David took great pride and pleasure in, making a difference in many lives. David retired from the USAF in 1973.
He was a lifelong member of the Quiet Birdmen in Reno, NV.
Following his career in the US Air Force, David worked as a medical manager in Atlanta, GA. In 1979, he moved his family to Reno where he worked as a medical manager for Radiology Consultants. David’s zest for adventure turned his occupation to the travel industry where he opened and operated his own travel agency, Windows of the World. Eventually, David went to work for Reno Air and finally American Airlines where he retired in 2001.
While stationed as a helicopter instructor at Stead AFB, he met and married the girl of his dreams, Marilyn Brooks, on August 22, 1959. Together they raised three beautiful children. David was proud of and most devoted to his family. His infectious smile and keen sense of humor made him many instant friends. The twinkle in his eye, generous heart and compassion will never be forgotten. He was an expert racquetball player with a thirst for friendly competition. He was an avid movie buff with a love for classical music and Broadway productions. A champion and hero to his family, his presence and love of life will be greatly missed. Heaven is a brighter place upon his arrival. There is no doubt that he is beaming with joy as he is cruising through the pearly gates in his convertible Volkswagen bug, greeting his family and friends who have gone before him on the “Flight West.”
He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters. David is survived by his wife of 60 years, Marilyn and his son and daughter in-law: David and Vickie Gish, his daughters and sons in-law: Dana and Jonathan Spivack, Diana and Roman de Salvo; sister, Kitty Williams; 2 grandchildren Danyel (Sean) and David (Brittany), 3 great grandchildren Bella, Gigi and Harlee and many nieces and nephews.
Special thanks to David’s loving caregivers Sally Zamora and Pat Kechak and the many kind and caring aids and nurses at Alta Skilled Nursing facility. Thanks to Herb Reibling for being David’s constant and loyal buddy.
A Memorial Service will be held at Walton’s Funeral Home at 875 W. 2nd Street in Reno, Nevada on November 30, 2019 at 1:00pm, followed by a Celebration of Life at the Hidden Valley Country Club. In lieu of flowers please consider donations to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 200 SE 1st Street, Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131 or online at Parkinsons.org, or the Veterans guest house at 880 Locust St., Reno, NV 89502 or at veteransguesthouse.org.
The family invites you to leave a message of condolence on David’s Memory Wall at www.waltonsfuneralhomes.org
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from Nov. 20 to Nov. 27, 2019
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