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Manuel Anthony Head

1922 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Manuel Anthony Head Obituary
Manuel Anthony Head
September 18, 1922 - February 14, 2014
Resident of San Jose
Manuel Anthony Head passed away at 4:24 AM PST on Friday, February 14, 2014, at the Veteran's Hospital Hospice in Palo Alto, California. He had experienced a severe stroke on January 24. His sons Stephen and Andrew were present at the time of his passing.
Manuel was born on September 18, 1922, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Ethel Maria Martinez and Llewellyn Dearing Head. Ethel was a hotel maid from El Paso, San Antonio, and Beaumont, Texas. Llewellyn was a hotel engineer from Athens, Georgia.
Raised for the most part by his mother, Manuel grew up with a younger half-brother. He attended R.C. Allen Elementary School and Alcee Fortier High School, graduating from the latter in 1938. Manuel worked as a painter and an office boy for a federal agency, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. In the summer of 1941, Manuel enlisted in the U.S. Army. He received basic training in Northern California, and attended radio operator school in Roswell, New Mexico.
After taking proficiency and aptitude tests, he qualified to become a B-17 pilot. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, 388th Heavy Bombardment Group, and was then assigned to combat duty at Knettishall Airfield, Suffolk County, England in March, 1944.
Manuel flew 39 missions over enemy occupied Europe in 1944 and 1945, rising to squadron lead pilot. He also flew two Chowhound food missions over enemy occupied Holland. His duties included ferrying famous celebrities such as Dinah Shore to USO concerts by air. After V-E Day, he flew ground crew tour missions around the Eiffel Tower and shuttled military VIPs back and forth between England and Paris for General Eisenhower. During a wheels-up landing on June 12, 1944, at Honington Airfield, the only casualty was his B-17G, the Lady Godiva, its name inspired by the lack of paint on the airplane's aluminum skin.
In September, 1945, with the rank of first lieutenant, Manuel received an honorable discharge. Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
After the war, Manuel attended Tulane University on the GI Bill, graduating Magna cum Laude with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1949. Upon graduation he joined the General Electric Company and worked on diesel and nuclear submarines, and nuclear power plants in Schenectady, New York. He was a consulting engineer for Westinghouse Electric Company during the design and construction of the Nautilus and the Seawolf nuclear powered submarines. During this time he also flew military aircraft for the Air National Guard, training in C-47 transport and P-51 fighter airplanes, and was promoted to captain in the Air Force Reserves.
In the summer of 1950, Manuel met Ann Marguerite Fitzgerald of Lawrence, Massachusetts, who worked as a classified documents editor at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady, at a YMCA dance. They were married on August 25, 1951 in Pittsfield, Mass.
Ann and Manuel raised three children in Schenectady. Due to a transfer by GE, the family moved to San Jose, California, in the summer of 1957. There, Manuel helped complete the construction of GE's Vallecitos Nuclear Power Station. In 1959, Manuel had been promoted to the technical lead engineer position in charge of the Nuclear Engineering Control and System Analysis for GE's Atomic Power Equipment Department Engineering Section. Two more children were added to the family during this time.
In December, 1967, the family moved to Zürich, Switzerland, following Manuel's transfer to GE's Technical Services Company (GETSCO) division and appointment to overseas nuclear power operation engineering manager for Europe. In 1972, Manuel was transferred back to San Jose, Calif., and subsequently in 1973 to Tokyo, Japan. In Tokyo, he was GE's nuclear power engineering and quality service manager. In 1976, Manuel and family returned to San Jose following another GE transfer. He worked on boiling water reactors in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, and Japan, as well as within the U.S. In 1989, after 41 years of service, Manuel retired from GE.
Manuel was a lifetime member of the 388th Bombardment Group, a World War II veterans' association, and GE's Elfun Society. His hobbies and activities included travel, skiing and snowboarding, flying single engine airplanes, and attending opera. Ann and Manuel enjoyed intellectual enrichment through taking courses at San Jose State University and numerous trips with the Elder Hostel Program.
Manuel's beloved spouse Ann passed away in December, 2008, in San Jose, Calif. Manuel is survived by his half-brother Joseph Henry Gutierrez in Hollywood, Fla.; son Stephen in Fremont, Calif.; son David in Los Gatos, Calif.; daughter Carol Ann in Brentwood, N.H.; son Michael in Burbank, Calif.; son Andrew, in Hanoi, Vietnam; two half-nieces; and eight grandchildren.
Memorial service and jazz funeral, with full military honors, will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose, California, on February 25, 2014, at 11:00 AM. Donations in Manuel's name may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation.
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(408) 297-2447

Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Feb. 19, 2014
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