John “Joe” Francis Guilmartin, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)
September 18, 1940 – March 10, 2016

Guilmartin; John F. “Joe” Guilmartin, PhD, passed away suddenly at Riverside Hospital, Columbus, OH., on March 10, 2016, surrounded by his Family.

The son of John Francis Guilmartin, Sr., and Katherine Douglas Guilmartin, he was born on September 18th, 1940.

He grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where he attended Texas Military Institute, graduating in 1957. The following year he was appointed to the US Air Force Academy by then Senator Lyndon Johnson, earning his undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering and graduating in the Class of 1962, “The Red Tag Bastards.” He graduated from US Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training in 1963 and from the Air Force Helicopter School in 1964. The bulk of his operational career, he served as a helicopter pilot with the Air Rescue Service, including two Southeast Asia tours based in Thailand. During the first, in 1965-66, he logged some 130 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam as an HH-3E “Jolly Green” helicopter pilot charged with rescuing American aviators shot down in enemy territory. During his second tour, in 1975, he flew HH-53C “Super Jolly Greens” including participation in Operation Frequent Wind, the 29-30 April Saigon Evacuation, flying from the attack carrier USS Midway. His crew and wingmen took out some 500 evacuees in twelve sorties and fired the last American shots of the Vietnam War, suppressing enemy anti-aircraft fire on their final run-in.

Between Southeast Asia tours, he attended Princeton University under Air Force sponsorship, earning his MA and PhD in History in 1968 and 1971 respectively, before serving on the History Faculty of the US Air Force Academy during 1970-74. The balance of his Air Force career was in Air Rescue Service Flying and Staff assignments, followed by a tour at Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, where he was Editor of the Air University Review, the professional journal of the US Air Force. He retired from active duty in 1983 as a Lt. Colonel and senior pilot. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Silver Stars and the Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.

Following retirement, he served on the faculties of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and Rice University, Houston, Texas, where he also served as Director of The Space Shuttle History Project working under a Rice University contract with the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. He joined the Ohio State University History Department in 1987 where he remained until his death. While at Ohio State, he supervised 26 doctoral students through to completion of the PhD. He published widely on military history, medieval and early modern naval history, airpower history and the history of the Vietnam War. During these years, he held the Charles Lindberg Chair at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., was a guest lecturer and Visiting Professor at West Point, and took part in and presented papers and lectures with the International Commission of Military Historians in locations all over the world for many years. Dr. Guilmartin recently received the prestigious Goodpaster Prize, awarded by the American Veteran’s Institute and The Bradley Foundation, as “Outstanding Soldier-Scholar,” amongst many other awards and honors. Additionally, the Joe Guilmartin Scholarship for World War II Study Abroad was graciously funded in his name for OSU students by admirers of his teachings.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Hannelore; by daughters, Lore Guilmartin and Eugenia Guilmartin, Colonel US Army; and by step-daughter, Karla Vick and step-son Kurt Vick; and grandchildren, Haley and Ranon Varney.

At his request, there will be no memorial service. Photos, memories and condolences can be shared on the SCHOEDINGER FUNERAL HOME website and those wishing to make charitable contributions in his honor can contact: The Texas Military Institute, 20955 W. Tejas Trail, San Antonio, TX 78257; The Jolly Green Scholarship Fund, Attn: Lee T. Massey, 916 Aloma Faye Lane, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547; The Joe Guilmartin Scholarship for World War II Study Abroad, OSU Department of History, Attn: Study Abroad Scholarship FUND # 13906, 106 Dulles Hall, 230 Annie & John Glenn Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, or,; Child Fund International, PO Box 26507, Richmond, VA 23261, or,, 1-800-776-6767
Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Mar. 20, 2016


March 22, 2016
Joe was a brilliant scholar, a wise teacher, and a gallant warrior. The world does not have many people who are all three, and he will be sorely missed in the company of military historians.

Hal Winton, Montgomery, Alabama

March 21, 2016
I offer my deepest sympathy for your loss. He was a great man for which words cannot do justice. I had the honor of taking his WW 2 course at OSU and doing undergraduate research with him this semester. His mentoring has forever changed my life. If there is ever anything I could do for you please don’t be hesitate to reach out. It is the least I can do for one of the greatest men I have ever met.

Tyler Webb, Powell, Ohio

March 21, 2016
Dear Lore, Anne and I were shocked and saddened to learn of Joe’s death. He was a valued colleague and friend for many years. It is a sad day and a diminished world without Joe.
Ken and Anne Andrien

March 21, 2016
Lore, I just heard about this and am heartbroken for you. Praying for you and your family.
Karen Van Horn

March 21, 2016
We live in a better country because of Joe. He was a warrior, scholar, and first-class gentleman. My deepest sympathy to his family.
John “Deke” Dinsmore, RTB ’62

March 20, 2016
Lori, my deepest sympathy on your lost. I wish I had the opportunity to know Joe better but I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with him at various docent functions.

Jack Downs, Columbus, Ohio

March 20, 2016
Lori, thinking about you!!XXXOOO

Joshua Sobul, Vail, Colorado

March 20, 2016
Dear Lore,
Don and I send you our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your dear husband John.

Ronni Feibel, New Albany, Ohio

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