Belina, John L. ("Jack"), Col., USAF, Ret. Age 72, of Burnsville. Born July 29, 1940 in Minneapolis, MN, passed away April 21, 2013 in Burnsville, MN. Jack was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. He is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Maxine; children, Judi Lund, Tom Belina (Karen), Scott Belina (Kelly) and Susanna Belina; grandchildren, Jonathan, Katherine, Clayton, Thomas, Mari and Alex and many other relatives and life-long friends. Preceded in death by parents, John and Rita Belina. Jack graduated from St. Thomas Academy, earned a bachelor's degree from St. Thomas and a master's degree from Troy University. He also completed the Air Command and Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. In 1963, he joined the USAF, attended Officer's Training School and received his commission in June 1964. After completing Helicopter Training School and Combat School Training, he went on to fly over 400 combat air rescue missions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In 1976, he became the Chief of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot for the CAP-USAF headquarters at Maxwell AFB and in 1980 he was appointed the CAP-USAF Chief of Readiness at Maxwell. In 1985, he moved back to his hometown of Minneapolis and assumed command of the North Central Region of USAF-CAP. He was a command pilot with over 3500 of flying hours. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. He was extremely proud to have been able to serve our country. After retiring from the Air Force in 1991, he worked as a realtor with the Executive and Lakeshore Properties division of Coldwell Banker. Jack was the epitome of the words "family man". When the Air Force moved him away from Minnesota, one of his favorite places to come home to (for Christmas Eve especially) was the Belina family farm in Owatonna, Minnesota. Jack had many cherished family and friends in Owatonna and always made sure his kids and grandkids (and anyone else who would listen) knew about the traditions, stories and history of his Bohemian ancestors. Jack was the consummate storyteller.... one of those people that would turn a 5 minute memory into an hour long story and have you laughing (and sometimes crying) the entire time.... even if it was the 10th time you'd heard it. He was an avid fisherman and never passed up a chance to go fishing with his friends. Mass of Christian Burial at St. John's Catholic Church, 4625 West 125th Street in Savage, Minnesota at 10:00 AM April 29, 2013, with gathering at the church one hour before the service. Interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery immediately following service. Memorials preferred to the JDRF (juvenile diabetes research), MinnDakotas, 3001 Metro Drive Suite 100, Bloomington MN 55425 or Children's' Hospital Foundation (cardiovascular research), 2910 Centre Pointe Drive, Roseville, MN 55113.
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.