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TAPP JAMES BUCKLEY TAPP Colonel USAF (Retired) December 6, 1920 - January 31, 2014 Colonel James Buckley Tapp, USAF retired, passed away on January 31, 2014 at the Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins, Colorado surrounded by his loving family. Jim was born in Eveleth, Minnesota on December 6, 1920 where he attended elementary and high school before attending Eveleth Junior College and learning to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program. Colonel Tapp enlisted in the Army Air Corps in October 1941 and earned his wings and a commission through the Aviation Cadet program at bases in Texas and Louisiana. Jim graduated from pilot training early as a volunteer for immediate combat duty in fighters. Colonel Tapp was assigned to the Pacific Theater and initially posted in the Hawaiian Islands and Midway. He participated in the battle to secure Iwo Jima where he would serve until the end of WWII. On Iwo Jima, Jim commanded the 78th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group, 20th Air Force. Colonel Tapp led his men as they escorted B-29 bombers from Tinian and Saipan on their long range bombing missions to Japan. On one such mission in April 1945, Colonel Tapp, flying a P-51D fighter plane, scored four victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Nation's second highest award for valor. Jim would score four additional victories on his way to becoming the first fighter Ace in the air war over Tokyo. While on leave, Jim and the former Margaret Mary Hobyan of Eveleth were married July 11, 1945. Following WWII Colonel Tapp attended the Air Force Institute of Technology for a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering and the University of Illinois for a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering. Colonel Tapp would spend the remainder of his career in Air Force Research and Development assignments at Wright Patterson AFB, the Pentagon and Eglin AFB Florida. Jim's last assignment was as the Director of Range Operations at Vandenberg AFB, California. Jim's other military awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal. Following Jim's retirement from the Air Force in 1970, he and Margaret settled in Lompoc, California where they pursued their love of the outdoors hiking and camping through most of the National and State Parks and Forest in the Western United States. The two re-located to Fort Collins, Colorado in 2000 where they were to spend the rest of their lives together. Margaret and Jim are survived by three children: James, Jr. of Great Falls, Virginia, Mary Jacobson of Seattle, Washington and John Tapp of Loveland, Colorado; six grandchildren: Caroline Rhoads, Mitra Kauffmann and Desiree Faili of Virginia, Sarah Tapp of Arizona and Tawnya Williams and Natasha Falk of Colorado; and seven great-grandchildren: Katie, Nicholas, Tapp, Skyler, Matthew, Jackson and Tallen. Colonel Tapp will rejoin his wife Margaret at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30 2014 at 3 p.m.
Published in The Washington Post on May 11, 2014