Colonel Gearald D.
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Colonel Gearald D. McCrea passed away in the company of his loving wife, his daughter and his son on June 5, 2014. His passing marked the peaceful end to his very long battle with coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure.
Jerry was born in Peru, Indiana on 27 August 1925 to parents Bruce and Grace McCrea and remained with them until July 1943 when he enlisted in the Army Air Force. Although the enlistment was intended to satisfy WWII service requirements, it actually began a military career that spanned over three decades. During the first ten years his attention was mostly directed to aviation. He became a gunner, a navigator and a pilot. Although during his career he was qualified in 15 different aircraft and was qualified as an instructor pilot in each of them, he was particularly proud of the 51 night and low level B-26 combat missions he flew during the Korean War. For meritorious service and specific accomplishments in those assignments as well as other service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Air Medals and the rating of Command Pilot. During the later years of the flying phase of his career, Colonel McCrea served as combat crew commander of a Strategic Air Command B-47 lead crew during the height of the Cold War with duty both in the States and overseas. His aviation postings included Whiteman AFB, Missouri where he served as a Command Post Controller and then as the Command Post Director and at Barksdale AFB, LA where he was Chief of the 2nd Air Force Command Post. It is noteworthy that he amassed a total of over 12,000 flight hours in both radial and jet aircraft having from one to eight engines.
The second phase of his career began with his assignment to attend the Air Force War College in 1968. He completed with the designation of Distinguished Graduate. He then toured with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon where he became the Chief of JCS Intelligence Command Post. For is accomplishments in this position he was presented the Meritorious Service Medal and authorized to wear the coveted JCS Service Badge.
The final phase of Colonel McCrea's career was devoted to the integration of intelligence data collection with computer processing and rapid dissemination to the proper user. He served on the staff of the United States Air Force-Europe Director of Intelligence until he was selected as the first single manager of all USAFE non-tactical computer hardware and software assigned to the European Theater of Operations. In that assignment he and his staff were responsible for the design, development and operational oversight of all non-tactical data processing utilized in the European Theater.
Upon returning to the States, he was selected to be the Vice Commander of the newly formed Air Force Data Automation Agency. His duties in that assignment were oversight and general management of all non-tactical computer data processing and large data handling systems utilized throughout the USAF. He served in that position until his retirement in 1976. For his recognized contribution to the Air Force mission in this capacity, Colonel McCrea was awarded the highly regarded Legion of Merit.
Jerry was an accomplished golfer who loved every facet of the game. He enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine, the competition and the great friendship of his fellow players. Jerry and his wife, Louise, were also seasoned travelers. In addition to the world-traveling they had done in the Service, they traveled extensively after retiring. Their objective was to travel in the States for at least one month a year as well as to take an annual cruise. In reflection they usually exceeded that schedule. Jerry was also an experienced vegetable gardener. He planted both a Summer and a Winter garden every year and relished the continuing battle with the weeds and bugs. Neighbors, friends and family will miss the bounty of his harvest.
Colonel Gearald McCrea is survived by his wife of 63 years, Louise, his daughter Linda McCrea and devoted grand-dog Gracie of Gulf Breeze, and his son Thomas of Phoenix, Arizona.
Interment will be at Barrancas National Cemetery under the direction of Faith Chapel Funeral Home. At his request the graveside service is private. A United States Air Force Chaplain will conduct the service for Colonel McCrea's family.
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Faith Chapel Funeral Homes - North Chapel
1000 Highway 29 Cantonment, FL 32533
Published in Pensacola News Journal on June 8, 2014