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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Robert J. “Bob” Lovretich, Colonel, USAF (Retired)March 13, 1939 – March 03, 2017
Husband, father, brother, and friend, (Colonel) Robert J. Lovretich, aka – Bob, died in a tragic accident the evening of Friday March 3rd, at 77 years old, only 10 days before his 78th birthday.
Nancy, Bob’s “bride” of 47 years, preceded him in death 3 years ago. He is survived by a daughter and his son Jeffery Lovretich along with his wife, Tanja and their children, Melissa, Laura, Katharina, Daniel, Natasha and Nadine. He is also survived by his sisters Jeanette Lovretich and Joene Pike.
Bob was born on 13 March, 1939 to Joseph Lovretich and Marian Bergstrom in Portland Oregon. From early on he knew what he wanted to do… which was to fly and in the USAF. He chose an engineering degree to help get him to that goal which was rough for him. Nearing completion of that degree his college counselor told him he should not try to make a living off of engineering. He told the counselor not to worry; he was just going to be a dumb pilot. And a pilot he became in the USAF, dumb, not so much. He had his heart set on flying high and fast in fighter jets… and got what he thought was half the wish by going low and slow in helicopters. But that turned out to be far more challenging and fun that he expected. He then wanted to command aviation squadrons, and again got half that wish and ended up commanding maintenance squadrons. And as it turned out again, he learned it was much more challenging and rewarding to command and work with those in maintenance, and he loved it. He served 26 years in the Air Force (in a variety of roles) such as a navigator, co-pilot, pilot, squadron commander and wing deputy commander, earning the final rank of colonel.
Not having enough of flying, Bob started a second career in flying for American Airlines for 11 years. He flew routes throughout America, to Europe and South America. Consequently, between his two careers, he developed friendships all over the world, and saw much of what most can only dream of.
Through these careers and afterwards in retirement, he and his wife Nancy, adventured together around the world seeing incredible sites and meeting wonderful people. For more than the last two decades he essentially chronicled many of the adventures in his annual Christmas Letter that he sent out to friends and family around the world.
In retirement, he remained very active, learning Aikido, biking and/or running daily, tutoring math to 4th grade students at Plew Elementary school, caring for feral cats, donating to local, national and international charities, contributing many published editorials to the local newspaper and some to the Wall Street Journal Online, voraciously reading and moderating/hosting the Vazsonyi political discussion group. He was often very active in varying rolls for his tight knit Grand Oaks Home Owners Association group.
There are numerous events that show his character and humor, but there are two at the moment that as his son come to mind showing who and what he was. When Jeff was able to move down to Crestview to live near his father after his mother died, and work from home for FedEx as a Systems Administrator, Jeff met Dale Bradley, his new across the street neighbor. Dale’s last name rang a bell for me, but when I told him of mine, Lovretich, his eyes lit up! He asked is your father Robert Lovretich?!? After I said yes, he exclaimed that his father was my father’s CO in Viet Nam and my father saved his father’s life as well as all the others in their chopper. My father arrived shortly after I met Dale and Dale thanked him. My father said “Don’t thank me, I saved myself, all the others just happened to be along for the ride.” He initially turned down the Silver Star for his conduct on that mission but was informed if he didn’t accept it, none of the enlisted that were on the mission with him would get any awards, and that would, long term, affect their retirement pay as well. So he reluctantly accepted the Silver Star so the enlisted could be properly take care of. He saw combat awards as being caught in the wrong place and the right time, and non-combat as being in the right place at the right time. To say the least, he was a humble.
The other event was when I was fourteen and we had just moved to Albuquerque, NM from England. There was this new thing called “cable TV” and it had HBO and the Movie Channel… and even MTV! Mom was in the kitchen preparing a meal as I was in the living room with my father and he was checking out this new cable TV thing. He turned it to some show on a cable channel in the middle of a movie. A woman in a sun dress was standing with her back to a bed and a man in front. Things got heated with them as he slipped the sun dress off the woman, the dress falling to the floor. She in turn helped his clothes fall to the floor. Both pairs of our eyes were wide as frying pans. The man pushed her on the bed and he follows as they began, well, bouncing together. Both our jaws hit the floor as I was looking out the corner of my eye at my father wondering what was going on and what was he going to do. He regained composure before I did and said… “Son that is called ‘gravity’. You must always be on the watch and careful of these gravity wells that come and go in all unlikely places and times. It will rip off the clothes and cause the couples to struggle to get up until the gravity well leaves. But it will come back in nine months with a vengeance and out of the lady will come someone like you.” He turned off the TV and walked away to have a word with mom. THAT was my “birds and the bees” talk. I’ve never heard of anyone else having such a creative talk on the subject under circumstances anywhere near like that either. He had a way of turning the most awkward and worst situations around into something completely different and better.
He will be sorely missed by all who knew him as a funny, kind, caring and giving man.
A memorial service with a reception to follow, will be held on Saturday, March 18, at 10am at Christ Our Redeemer Catholic Church, 1028 White Point Road, Niceville, FL. Military Honors will proceed the services at 9:30am.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to any one of the following, sharing-n-caring.org, operationsmile.org or woundedwarriorproject.org.
~ GUEST BOOK ~
March 16, 2017You have my deepest sympathy!!! Bob and Nancy were amazing people and will be sorely missed.Betty Brownlee, RN~Mercy Hospital class of 1960
March 16, 2017We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Colonel Lovretich. He was a great customer and friend. Over the years, we were honored to see him and Nancy with their infectious smiles and joyful laughter, just celebrating life together. We will forever cherish the memories that we have of them both. His family is in our thoughts and prayers. He will be missed!~Bay Cafe Staff Bay Cafe French Restaurant, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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