Shaeffer, John E.

John E. Shaeffer, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)
March 12, 1931 – March 29, 2018

John Shaeffer, age 87 passed away on March 29, 2018. John was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Josephine Parks Shaeffer and Glenn Nehls Shaeffer. His family moved to Florida after his high school years.

John graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Business, and soon thereafter joined the US Air Force for a 28-year career that included pilot training and deployments in Korea and Vietnam. Later he served in assignments supporting NASA’s Apollo program and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.

He especially loved his years in the Air Force’s Air Rescue Service as a helicopter pilot. Highly decorated for his service, John was awarded the US Distinguished Flying Cross as aircraft commander for voluntarily, repeatedly piloting his helicopter under extremely hazardous conditions to an area in South Korea’s Han River rescuing survivors of a military aircraft crash. Despite these adversities, his efforts were cited as being “instrumental in recovering more than 25 of the survivors”. During his missions in Vietnam, he provided rescue to downed pilots and other wounded personnel of the US Military during the conflict. Afterwards, he was assigned to support NASA’s Apollo program coordinating helicopter recovery of the returning astronaut space capsule for several missions to the moon.

Upon retirement, he turned his love of golf into a small business, John’s Club Works, making custom golf clubs and providing repair work for the Hurlburt Golf Course. A lifetime Presbyterian, he was also two-term chairman of the local American Heart Association, a Kiwanian for more than 30 years and belonged to the Pedro Rescue Helicopter Association. He loved boating and fishing, especially with his good friend Jeff Provost.

John loved deeply and was deeply loved. He is survived by his family, wife of 63 years Carolyn, sister Mary Jo, daughter Sydnie, son Mark, grandson Reid Shaeffer, PhD, niece Cynthia Rogers and nephews Bud Rogers and James Emmons.

A funeral service will be conducted at 2:00 pm on Friday, April 6th at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2 Woodham, Avenue, Ft. Walton Beach, FL. The family will receive visitors one hour prior to the service. Interment will take place at Beal Memorial Cemetery following the service.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Monument Fund, 2100 N. Highway 360 Suite 907, Grand Prairie, TX 7505-1030. Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at


Lt. Col. Shaeffer served a tour in the Vietnam War as a HH-43F pilot with Det. 7, 38th ARRS in the 1967-time frame.

Integrity, Honor, and Respect
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