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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
James Howard West, Colonel, USAF (Retired)October 05, 1931 – September 12, 2014
West, James Howard, 82, Oct. 05, 1931 – Sept. 12, 2014.
James Howard WEST Colonel United States Air Force, Retired James H. West made his Last Flight on 12 September 2014 in Renton, WA at the age of 82.
James was born in Eureka, CA on 5 October 1931. He moved to Portland, OR. in 1941; graduated from Ulysses S. Grant High School in 1949. In 1953 he graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then entered the United States Air Force Aviation Cadet Program graduating December 1954 as a Second Lieutenant Navigator and Aircraft Performance Engineer at Mather AFB, CA.
On 26 December 1954 he married his college love, Helen E. Doig. He earned his Observer Wings in June 1955 and was assigned as an instructor in Engineering. His oldest daughter Denise Cathleen was born in Sacramento, CA June 1958.
He earned his Pilot Wings in September 1959 at Reese AFB, TX. Jim’s first pilot assignment was 55th Weather Recon Sq., McClellan AFB, CA, followed by a 3-year tour in Japan flying KB-50J’s. His youngest daughter Janine Lucretia was made in Japan September 1962. The family returned to Sacramento in 1963, assigned to 552nd AEW&C Wing. A tour in SEA 1967-68 with the 20th Helicopter Sq., Pony Express. Command tour with the Aerospace Defense Command, Inspector General’s Office, Colorado Springs, CO, followed by return to 552nd as Squadron Commander 964th, then the 963rd Sq. In 1975 he was assigned as Base Commander Sondrestrom AB, Greenland for fourteen months followed by a tour at Homestead AFB, FL with the last of the EC-121 Warning Star aircraft. He was then assigned to Tinker AFB, OK as Commander of the NORAD contingent with the 552nd AWACS Wing (TAC).
He retired as a Colonel from Tyndall AFB, FL, 1 February 1984 with over thirty year’s service. Colonel West was a Command Pilot with over 6,000 hours of flying time. During his career he was awarded over 40 awards and decorations. Among his top honors were the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal W/3 OLC, Air Medal W/2 OLC, and Air Force Commendation Medal. He was a graduate of Squadron Officer School and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He joined The Boeing Company as a Human Factors Engineering Analyst with the 707 and 767 AWACS Programs, retiring in July as part of the Class of ’95.
Jim was a life member of The Daedalians, Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, American Legion, Air Force Helicopter Pilots Association, and The Museum of Flight where he was active as a Docent and a member of the Eagle Heritage Society.
He is survived by his wife of 59 plus years, Helen, their daughters Denise (Brad) Mower of Bellevue, WA and Janine Lucretia West, Wilsonville, OR.
Published in The Oregonian from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26, 2014
~ GUEST BOOK ~
October 20, 2014I have known Col West since he was a Captain at McClellan AFB in the 1960’s. I flew with him when he was a Major on a EC-121 mission from McClellan AFB, CA to Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix AZ and return. He was my last Commander in the Air Force, from September 1978 to 1 May 1980 prior to my retirement. We worked together in Human Engineering for the Boeing Company and both retired 1 July 1995. We were good friends for over 36 years. I already miss talking with him weekly or getting together with Jim and Helen for breakfast or lunch. Jim was a great commander, leader coworker and friend. I will remain available to Helen, Janine and Denise as long as they need me, with love and deepest sympathy.~ CMSgt Jim Chevrier, Maple Valley, Washington