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Captain Paul Luther Holmes, USN, retired Went home to the Lord on Jan. 29, 2014, and was reunited with his beloved wife, Ardis Ann. He was born March 7, 1919 in Rock Island, IL to the Rev. Bernt Gunnar and Amanda Holmes - his father was a Lutheran pastor who served parishes in the Midwest. Paul graduated from high school in Hoffman, MN and earned a degree in International Relations at the University of Minnesota. In 1941 he won his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator and, as an ensign, served as a flight instructor at Pensacola. During WWII he piloted submarine hunters in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and flew night fighters in North Africa and Italy. In the Korean conflict he was navigator of the USS Bairoko, an escort carrier on which he took part in early hydrogen bomb testing off Kwajalein. In his final active duty post, at the Pentagon, he was Executive Officer for Manpower, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Years later, Capt. Holmes recounted several incidents, including experiencing left engine sputter at the point of no return over the south Atlantic and "limping" 600 miles to safety; attacking and sinking a surfaced enemy submarine near Gibraltar after it had fired on his aircraft; an unexplainable "Bermuda Triangle" encounter while flying east of Florida; and taking an aircraft carrier, as navigator, through a narrow passage near Japan during a typhoon. Among his greatest memories, however, was his marriage to Ardis Ann Grunditz at Riverside, CA in 1946, and eventually welcoming her to the island of Saipan after she had spent 19 days crossing the Pacific on an Army transport ship. Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1964, Capt. Holmes returned to Stanford University - where he had earned a master's degree in 1948 - and completed the doctoral program (Ed.D) in Higher Education Administration. In his second career he worked as Admissions Director at Laney College, Dean of Students at Contra Costa College, and, finally, as President of the College of Alameda. In 1981, he retired to Gig Harbor, WA. He was preceded in death by his wife Ardis in 2006, and leaves behind a daughter, Mary Ann, and son, David Stephen. In addition he is survived by his daughter-in-law, the former Jothi d/o Chelliah, and grandchildren Ailene and Matthew. Capt. Holmes has requested that any donations be directed to Franciscan Hospice or Peninsula Lutheran Church, Gig Harbor. The burial will be at Tahoma National Cemetery, with a memorial service at Peninsula Lutheran. Please sign his online guest book at with favorite memories and condolences for the family.

Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) on Feb. 5, 2014
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