Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Joseph Valentine Wildinger Jr., Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)February 15, 1943 – October 11, 2018
Joseph Valentine Wildinger, Jr. (Lt Col USAF Retired) was born February 15, 1943 in Salinas, California to his proud parents, Beatrice Ann Smith and Major (USAF) Joseph Valentine Wildinger, Sr.
Upon graduation at Peru State College, Nebraska, Joe immediately joined the Air Force to proudly serve his country and to fly airplanes. During his 23 years in the Air Force he flew KC-135 tankers and UH-1N helicopters. After retiring, he continued flying with Eastern Metro Express before beginning his dream of inspiring in others his love of aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He spent 20 years as an Adjunct Professor and later a full time Associate Professor and Director of Academics at Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field AFB.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jeanne Ables Wildinger; his daughter, Erica Wildinger; son, Evan Joseph Wildnger (Jolie); grandchildren, Jackson Joseph, Macy, Mallory and Ellis; his sister, Pamela Wildinger Brooks (Thomas); nephews Craig Brooks (Jennifer), Tyler and William, and Douglas Brooks (Wendy), Sylvia and Sebastian. He is also survived by his adoring dogs, Airey, Dino, Destiny and Court.
A celebration of life will be held on Monday, October 22 at 1:00 pm at Emerald Coast Funeral Home with full military honors in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you support ASHA: Alabama Sighthound Adoptions, a non-profit organization for rescued greyhounds and salukis.
~ GUEST BOOK ~
October 14, 2018 8:48 PMI only knew Joe at the Eglin gym and he will be missed.~Tom Hancock
October 14, 2018 8:13 PMJoe was a good friend, fellow Hornet, combat pilot supporting the 5th Special Forces & recognized leader. We served in the 20th ‘69-‘70 and together again in Panama from ‘70-‘74. I trusted him no matter the situation. Our families were close for many years.God bless you all!~Bob & Lindy Estus
October 13, 2018 5:06 PMCandleI served with him at Hurlburt in the 20th SOS! He will be missed greatly! My sincere condolences to family and friends.~Buck Watson
October 13, 2018 4:07 PMExpression of SympathyAn A Garden Path was sent on October 13, 2018The 20th Special Operations Squadron sends our deepest sympathies and our greatest respect. “Once a Hornet, Always a Hornet!!!”
October 13, 2018 12:21 PMProud to have known Joe and served with him. He was a great pilot and served his country with honor. We served together in the 20th SOS. The unit was special because of people like Joe. He gave all to everything that he did. He will be missed. Rest in peace my friend.~Colonel Charles Merriott (Ret)
October 13, 2018 11:51 AMFlew with Joe many times with the 20th Special Operations Squadron “Green Hornets” in Vietnam and Cambodia. Joe was a great pilot and I am proud to have served with him. Rest in peace my brother.~RT Rivero
October 13, 2018 11:31 AMI served with Joe at the 39th ARRW and Det. 1 57TFW. He was a good officer and great commander. ~Tim Miller
October 13, 2018 10:31 AMVery saddened to hear of his passing. I served with him at Indian Springs AAF, NV. when he was the commander of Det. 1, 57th FWg. Our USAF helicopter family will miss him and we will remember his service to our country including his Vietnam War service as a pilot with the 20th SOS “Green Hornets”. God rest his soul, and God comfort and protect the Wildinger family.~Jim Burns, SMSgt. USAF (retired)
October 12, 2018 7:31 PMCandleI miss you Dad.~Erica Wildinger
October 11, 2018 3:48 PMCandleChristine Gregory and the Staff of Emerald Coast Funeral Home~Christine Gregory