Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
John Becker “Mad Jack” Riederich, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)July 25, 1937 – April 24, 2018
On April 24, 2018, Lt. Col. John Becker “Mad Jack” Riederich (Retired), at 80 years, “ran out of airspeed, altitude and ideas,” as he lost his battle with leukemia, and not without a fight.
John was a graduate of West Haven, CT High School, where he was later inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame for athletic achievement, dedication, courage and character. A Home Town Hero from West Haven, CT (locally known as Johnny), he graduated from the University of Connecticut and went on to be a pilot in the Air Force. He survived two tours in VietNam as a helicopter rescue pilot, flying the HH-43 Husky. He completed over 500 missions in which he retrieved and or recovered every person he was sent after. John achieved the Honor of the Distinguished Flying Cross in Vietnam. John was a pilot in the military for 28 years where he flew a multitude of aircraft including but not limited to F-102’s and F-4’s. He had a profound effect on many under his command. He flew for the airlines both Pan American Airways and Delta. John had a wonderful career and life. Known as “The Colonel”, “Captain Jack”, “The Duke”, “Giant Jack”, and “Mad Jack”, he had a tremendous impact on many of the youth in Huntington Beach, California.
He was not only known as a war hero, but was most known locally for his hard-nosed, no bones about it, tough, and fair coaching style of football. John always emphasized the fundamentals and was a teacher of discipline, pride, and integrity.
He is survived by Carole, to whom he was married for 53 years, and three sons, Brent, Bram and Brodie. John was a caring grandfather to 9 grandchildren.
John loved his sports and most importantly his home town of West Haven, Connecticut.
Johnny, you will be missed and always remembered for the Giant of a man you were.
May you Rest in Peace and forever fly high, screaming across the skies at Mach speeds.
A proper full military honors send-off will take place on May 21, 2018, 1100 hours, at Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, California. Preston and Simons Mortuary Riverside, CA
Published in Orange County Register on May 20, 2018
~ GUEST BOOK ~
May 22, 2018A great man we will miss him~The class of 1955
May 21, 2018Goodbye to a great, loyal friend and teammate going back go grade school and on to UConn and those carpools from Storrs freshman year. Glad I was able to be there and honor you at your WHHS Hall of Fame induction last November. Still couldn’t get over the fact that he waited more than 60 years to ask me if I missed my defensive assignment on Johnny Daniels’ long run for Hillhouse that beat us in Yale Bowl, 13-12, in our senior year. Nobody was more loyal or devoted to old teammates and class mates. Happy to have known him and I didn’t even know until recently what a great war hero Jack was.Milt NorthropWHHS ’55~Milton Northrop, Williamsville, NY SHARE
May 21, 2018Very sorry for your loss. My Dad often spoke of Jack and their friendship since childhood. I last saw him at my Dad’s wake and couldn’t believe he traveled so far. But others told me they weren’t surprised. The bond was that tight with the group of guys from the class of 55.~Patti Southworth Clemens. (Daughter of Bob Southworth), West Haven, CT
May 21, 2018~Mindy, Huntington Beach LIGHT A
May 20, 2018Its been a very big loss to your loved ones with the passing of you Sr.!!!!I’m deeply saddened I never was given the opportunity to have mace your acquaintance !!!!!! I’d like to say too you that you are muchly loved, have accomplished things big and small most are not fortunate to achieve in one lifetime …. Even two. Thank you for giving to my life the pleasures of knowing the most awesome and wonderful wife u were blessed with for fifty four years. The three men you fathered, are very much wonderful and very strong men. Each in their own facets! You are missed dearly Sr.!!!!!! AAlways will be remembered for the life and the sheer force u have been. Rest peacefully please. The loss of you here onEarth has been one of epic proportions. …~Mindy