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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
John Ronald Oberst, Colonel, USAF (Retired)April 28, 1934 – September 12, 2017
Colonel John Ronald Oberst (Ret.) passed away at home, surrounded by his entire family, on September 12, 2017. He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Services will be held at Ft. Meyer Post Chapel on Wednesday August 29, 2018 at 13:00 hours.
John Oberst was born on April 28, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey to Russell and Wilma Oberst.
He graduated from Arts High, Uppsala College, and University of Maryland. He began his military career in 1957 and achieved his aeronautical rating in April 1958. His first assignments were to Itazuke Air Base and Misawa AB, Japan. He is a combat Vietnam War veteran aviator having flown 45 special operations combat missions with the 21st Special Operations Squadron “Dust Devils” in 1968-1969. He had assignments to Spence AFB, Georgia; Webb AFB, Texas; Randolph AFB, Texas; Seymour-Johnson AFB, South Carolina; Stead AFB, Nevada; Sheppard AFB, Texas; Vietnam (based in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand); Andrews AFB, Maryland; Ramstein AB and Berlin, Germany; Fort Belvoir, Virginia and the Pentagon. As a Major, he won a national award for writing a paper on “What is an American,” which resulted in a personal meeting with then Vice President Spiro Agnew. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he was Vice Commander of Tempelhof AB, Berlin Germany and personally greeted the first ever hijacked airplane to West Berlin, then a western enclave in the former East Bloc. As a Colonel, he briefed President Ronald Reagan in the oval office on the status of prisoners of war in Vietnam. Throughout his distinguished 30 year Air Force career Colonel Oberst earned notable decorations to include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross w/one device, Meritorious Service Medal w/one device, Air Medal w/four devices, Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/4 devices, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/one device. As a career Air Force helicopter pilot, he amassed over 6300 hours, flying every model in the Air Force rotor wing inventory, and retired in 1987 with the highest number of flying hours than any helicopter pilot at that point in history.
John will be remembered as an avid reader, fitness man, world traveler, classic car enthusiast, mentor to his children and grandchildren, and friend to everyone. He was an active member of many organizations including the Daedalians, Air Force Association, National Military Intelligence Association, NRA, Golds Gym, Jaguar Club, a charter and lifelong member of the USAF Helicopter Pilot Association. He was generous, honest, caring, loving, and lived life to the fullest. He left us too early. At 83, he was still fueled up for more adventure and friendship.
John is predeceased by his parents. He is survived by his wife Jorun K. Oberst, children John R. Oberst (Kimberly J.), Eric R. Oberst (Kimberly A., Steven, Elena), Lisa K. Oberst Waniel (Michael, Alexandra, Lauren) and his brother Russell M. Oberst (Arlene, Russell, Donna).
Bill deVriesFond memories of John and Joy in our Air Force days. RIP dear friend.
Jane Dull | Sep 15, 2017 6:17amIt has been many years since we were stairwell neighbors in Ramstein, Germany. We had great fun raising our young families side by side. Living nearby, once again, impromptu visits was always welcomed by John and his cheerful manner. You always felt special when with him. He was genuine! God bless all of you and may you take comfort in knowing his life was well lived. Much love and affection to all of you with so many happy memories to recall.
Lindsay Sagstuen and John Dibble | Sep 14, 2017 6:25pmThank Lisa keeping us updated, we miss John, he will forever be in our hearts. Give your Mom hug from us.
Unni Gjerdrum | Sep 14, 2017 6:18pmThank you Lisa??Our thoughts go to all of you
Karin-helen Jensen | Sep 14, 2017 4:57pmThank you Lisa….Hugs and love to all there….Thinking of all of you in this trying time …Sending you strength from here…he is missed already….deeply…Tante Lille.
Karin & Tom McCabe | Sep 14, 2017 4:45pmThank you Lisa. We are looking forward to his burial at Arlington. Pls keep us informed.
Unni Louise Noestvik | Sep 14, 2017 12:21pmLove and hugs from all of us at Inndyr
Erna Brown | Sep 14, 2017 11:59amThank you Lisa
Joy Oberst | Sep 13, 2017 8:59pm
Anne’ Kalset | Sep 13, 2017 8:34pmDear Joy, John Jr. , Kim, Eric,Kim,Steven,Elena,Lisa, Mike, Alexandra and Lauren,
Forgive me for not writing sooner but the news has been incredibly difficult for all of us. We feel that another part of our family is gone. John was family to us. The memories of the last 30 plus years of time we have spent with your family is truly something special. Parties with our parents, weekends at the bay house, drawings and paintings for the kids, crossword puzzles and Car magazines that would appear in the bedroom at the bay house. John was our Jeopardy champion whenever he came over he said “hey kid you want to watch Jeopardy” and yes he always knew the answers while the rest of us just yelled out a guess. He attended my wedding, my brothers wedding ,all of my parents surgeries, almost every birthday,our children’s baptisms , my mothers memorial, we shared holidays and many, many more incredible memories. John you were loved by all of us and another piece of our hearts has gone with you. I hope that in the days and months ahead you can all find peace and comfort knowing how grateful and proud he was for all of you ,especially these last nine months where each of you helped in his treatment plans and care. John you have left a legacy of kindness, knowledge, courage and honor.
Love and prayers to all of you from all of us ??Anne’, Hans,Kristiana,Karolina,Kristopher,Eivind,(MaryAnn),Eric,Donna and BaerArlington
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 9/14/2017The incredible support we have received from family and friends is truly heartwarming. Thank you for all the prayers, hugs, flowers, kind words and meals.Colonel (Ret.) John Ronald Oberst’s service and burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery, which will take some time-several months. As soon as we have more specific information, we will let you know.Family
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 9/12/2017My father always stressed the importance of family over material things. We are so grateful that the immediate family was able to be together holding dad as he took his last difficult breath this morning.Our hearts are heavy but we are relieved he is peaceful now.All roads come to an end unless the road is a traffic circle
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 9/8/2017… is what my dad just said. Thank you God he still has a sense of humor. Hospice is coming tomorrow.What To Say
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 8/26/2017I haven’t written lately because I don’t know what to say. I want to be positive but I also want to be real. When I remember why I started this site, which is to alleviate the need for my mother to repeat herself and spend a lot of time on the phone, I realize I need to tell you that things aren’t good. My mother is a trooper. She had food poisoning yesterday and was still up by dinner time taking care of my dad. But the point is that he needs taking care of- there is a lot he can’t do anymore, and walking up the stairs is about to be one of them. He is on oxygen constantly, taking a shower is very difficult, and eating is something he’s forcing himself to do, barely. He has lost a lot of weight. He goes for the third chemo infusion Tuesday and then the fourth 2 weeks later. Then the next CT. Besides these critical appointments, he is not leaving the house. He is eager to see if the chemo is doing anything so he can decide if this is worth it. Visits are welcome, fyi.Oxygen
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 8/14/2017Dad’s lungs continue to give him trouble so they were drained again and the process will be repeated (alternating lungs) once a week.Eric was home for a few days to visit and helped with the thoracentesis and recovery.Dad was prescribed home oxygen use, which really seems to help when he exerts himself. He doesn’t need it when he is just sitting reading the paper.First round of chemo went fairly well considering, so he will start round two tomorrow, and John and Kim are both coming to visit while Lisa, Mike and Lauren go to Chicago to help Aly move into her college dorm.Déjà Vu
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 7/28/2017Back to Burger King, but they didn’t have crowns this time. I think dad looks better in this photo 3 months later…. but, his lungs aren’t in great shape because the cancer in his lungs has spread (not measurable tumors but rather a snowstorm of small stuff). He had over a liter of fluid drained from each of his lungs this week and his breathing is better but still strained when he exerts himself. As a result, he doesn’t qualify for the trial anymore, so we met with his oncologist today to discuss a moderated chemo schedule which will begin Tuesday. We believe the chemo had an impact last time but dad did not tolerate the type/dose very well, so we are hopeful the moderated combination will go over better and have positive results for his lungs/breathing.Thoracentesis
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 7/24/2017A good spelling bee word: the procedure to drain the fluid in dad’s lungs. He checks into NIH Wednesday to address the lungs, and round one (of two) of the trial starts Thursday. He gets very short of breath and needs to lay low until then. If admitted on Wednesday, he will be at NIH in Bethesda until August 3, then he returns for round two on August 16.NIH
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 7/5/2017Dad had his in-depth trial appointment at the National Institute of Health cancer center today, for a trial that begins July 27. He needs some preliminary tests for kidney function, another CT scan and an echocardiogram before then, and if he passes with flying colors he will check in on July 26. The trial goes for 21 days inpatient (kind of -he can come and go occasionally) and then he take some time off and does round two.This trial is a chemo/immuno drug combo and we like Dr. Alewein and the interactions we have experienced at NIH so far.Dad has been really tired lately with an increasing cough, so our only concern is that we can’t start sooner. Continued prayers are appreciated, always. ??Nice Break But Time For Action
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 6/26/2017Dad had his recent CT scan followed by an oncologist appointment on Friday. While the cancer in the liver shrunk (yay!), the cancer in the lungs has spread, so it’s time to take action. He’s aiming for the trial at the National Cancer Institute at NIH. Dad is also possibly battling a little pneumonia right now, and is on antibiotic which we hope will lessen the coughing he’s had recently. It didn’t stop him from having a great time with the family though, eating crabs on the deck for Mike’s 50th . Both boys were in town and it was a great weekend.Doing Well
Journal entry by Lisa Waniel — 6/12/2017Dad has been doing very well, enjoying every day “normal” life. His oldest granddaughter Alexandra is graduating from high school, so Poppy has been busy attending concerts and award ceremonies etc. Mom comes home from Norway today! in time for the big graduation this week, followed by (son-in-law) Mike’s 50th next week. So dad is enjoying some good quality family time. He hasn’t had a treatment since April, and he feels pretty good but it’s time to review a new CT scan and formulate a plan moving forward for if/when anything changes. He has an appointment with the oncologist on June 23.
DiagnosisJournal entry by Lisa Waniel — 1/3/2017
The basics:Dad/John went into the hospital the day after Christmas to address some symptoms that were initially diagnosed as a gallstone. Further testing revealed a malignant tumor in his pancreas. The type of cancer is Adenocarcinoma, which is best treated using the Whipple procedure (because it is currently at a low stage and has not spread to other organs or into vascular areas), followed by short mid-strength Chemo program for 6 months for thorough eradication of rogue malignancy.The surgery is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday morning January 10 at Fairfax Hospital. His pancreatic surgeon will be Dr. Piper, who is confident this is the best route for a complete cure. We will post updates here regularly and we ask for your prayers for a successful journey to recovery,? Joy, John, Eric and Lisa
The details:Dad was released from H after 5 days and is home until surgery. No pain, biggest complaint right now itchiness, a side effect of the jaundice. Stent was inserted in bile duct so flow could return to normal and jaundice is slowly subsiding. (Slight glitch here- not normalizing so a larger stent will be put in Jan 4). Only 20% of patients with this type of cancer are eligible for the Whipple procedure, so we are so grateful dad can have the surgery. He passed a stress test and is ready to proceed.