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James Stephan Joska

Obituary Condolences

James Stephan Joska Obituary
Joska, Colonel James Stephan U.S. Air Force (Ret.) passed away on February 27, 2014. He was preceded in death by his wife of sixty-seven years, Nina; by sisters Lillian and Pawnee and brother Tony. He is survived by daughter Susan Sutton of Altavista, Virginia; by son James of Carmichael, California; and by six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Colonel Joska was born on July 26, 1921, at Fort Meade, Maryland, the son of an Army Bandmaster; raised in St. Louis, James was a graduate of McKinley High School and Hadley Vocational School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 as a Private, rose to Corporal with Signal Corps training in Missouri and California. He attended UCLA in 1944 and completed OCS at Ft. Monmouth (NJ), earning his commission in May, 1945. As a 2nd Lieutenant he served as a radio officer in Del Carmen, Philippines, and then as a supply officer in the Occupation in Kobe, Japan. Promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the Army Reserve, he returned to the U.S. with postings in Kansas and Missouri; he joined the National Guard in 1948. As a Captain, he transferred to the Air National Guard in 1951 and was a communications officer (USAF) at Ft. Ethan Allen (VT). During the Korean Conflict he was stationed at Taegu Air Base, ROK. He returned to Keesler AFB (MS) and Kirkland/West Mesa AFB (NM) as a radar officer and site commander. In 1956 he attended the University of Colorado (Boulder), completed his BS degree in Electrical Engineering, and was promoted to Major. He served three years in London, England (Ruislip/Eastcote), as an operations officer, returning in 1961 to George Washington University (D.C.) to earn his Masters in Engineering Administration. During the early 1960's then Lt. Colonel Joska was a test officer at Eglin AFB (FL) and a staff officer at Andrews AFB (MD). Assigned to the Pentagon 1968-72 as a range instruction officer, he was promoted to Colonel and returned to the Philippines (Clark AFB) as a deputy commander until 1973. His final two assignments were at Richards-Gebaur AFB (MO) and McClellan AFB (Sacramento, CA), the latter as Commander of the 2049th GC. He retired from the Air Force in July, 1978. From buck private to bird colonel is how Colonel Joska described his military career; his integrity, honesty, and expertise were meritoriously recognized by his military superiors; his fairness, experience, and reliability earned him the respect of those with whom he worked and those whom he commanded. At age sixteen he earned his amateur radio license (W9QBC) and was a lifelong HAM, working the bands as WQBC, W1WAL, WA40KR, and N6CNJ. A career military man but an engineer at heart, he brought to his hobbies - from woodworking to electronics to home repair - an attention to detail and function that produced expert results. He met his wife, Nina, at Art Hill in Forest Park in St. Louis, and for next six decades they moved around the U.S. and the world and raised two military brats. From pub crawls in London to camping through Europe to charity work in Manila, they relished local experiences wherever they lived, and continued to travel in retirement - from Alaska to Rio and St. Petersburg to Budapest. Services: Interment with military honors of Colonel Joska will take place at Jefferson Barracks Military Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri, where the remains of his wife, his father, and his brother already rest.


Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Mar. 22 to Mar. 23, 2014
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