Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Jose Antonio Tavarez, CMSgt., USAF (Retired)?, 1954 – June 17, 2018
Mr. Jose A. Tavarez of Auburndale, Florida passed away on Sunday, June 17, 2018 at the age of 64 years.
Jose was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City where he graduated from Aviation High, in Queens, the only Federal Aviation Administration-approved high school in the country.
Upon graduating high school, Jose served 27 years in the United States Air Force, reaching the rank of Command Chief. His assignments have taken him around the world in maintenance and flying career fields, ranging from assistant crew chief to flight engineer on special operations and rescue missions to chief flight engineer of the premier “VIP” helicopter fleet that served congressional members and other senior ranking federal personnel in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. His last assignment was as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Commander, Twenty-First Air Force, McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. In this capacity, he advised the commander on welfare and morale issues affecting 120,000 service personnel in 15 countries. During his military career, Jose also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, graduated first in his Non-Commission Officer Leadership School class, and won the prestigious Tactical Air Command Aircrew of Distinction. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Combat Readiness Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal with one star.
After retiring from military service, Jose joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in October 2000 as Director of Guest Services. He was ultimately promoted to Vice President of Hispanic Outreach and Military Affairs, where he developed and implemented programs to enhance relationships with the Tampa Bay Hispanic and military communities.
Jose is known for his humanitarian works, which led him to help less fortunate people in places such as the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Celia (Villaseñor), sons Joe (Danielle) and Gabe (Chelsea), and four grandchildren, Jane, Lola, Jack, and Desi.
A Celebration of Jose’s life will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, at Kersey Funeral Home, 108 East Lake Stella Drive, Auburndale, 33823, Florida.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in memory of Jose may be made to Fisher House:Online at https://donate.fisherhouse.org/.
By mail to Fisher House Foundation, 12300 Twinbrook Pkwy, Suite 410 Rockville, MD 20852.
My father took his final breath yesterday on the day we were supposed to be honoring him. He fought an aggressive form of stomach cancer that spread rapidly to his bones with every last bit of strength he had left. I was holding his hand when he left us to be with the Almighty Father. He was at peace and looked just like he did when he would fall asleep on his favorite chair. The connection he and I had was inexplicable. I’m going to miss you like crazy and look forward to the day we can play catch again, old man.“I want you to believe deep in your heart that you’re capable of achieving anything you put your mind to. That you will never lose. You either win or learn. Just go forth and aim for the skies. I can’t promise to be here for the rest of your life but I can promise to love you for the rest of mine.”Love you dad