James L. Harcrow, Lt. Col. U.S. Air Force (Ret.), 95, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., passed away at a local hospital on Feb. 12. He was born Nov. 21, 1917, in Ennis, Texas, to J. Linsey and Iva Harcrow. He has lived in the community since 1968, was an avid golfer and was Baptist by faith and a member of the First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach. He honorably served his country, while in the Air Force for 28 years; retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was a veteran of WWII and a lifetime Mason.
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He graduated from the Aviation Cadet program of the Army Air Corps in May '41, and was sent to Hemet Field, Calif., then Moffett Field, Calif., where he got his wings. He checked out in the B-17 at Davis-Montham Air Force Base, Ariz., and immediately was sent to California to pick up a brand new B-17 and fly it to Australia, where he entered combat.
He flew 56 combat missions in the B-17 and logged 325 combat hours over Rabaul Harbor, during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, to name a few. He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses and four Air Medals during this tour.
At the end of his tour, he returned to the states and checked out in the B-29 and instructed in that aircraft. At the end of the Pacific War, he was sent to Japan as part of the military occupation and governing command. He later returned for a second tour.
He returned to Kelly Air Force Base in Texas. While there, he was awarded the Soldier's Medal for rescuing someone from an aircraft that had crashed on takeoff. He had been at Base Ops when the crash occurred, and got to the site before the Fire Department did, pulling the man to safety. He was credited with saving the man's life.
Later he was sent to Hill Air Force Base, where he was a C-124 Squadron Commander (logged about 2500 hours in the C-124 there), then on to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., in Material Command.
He retired in 1968 after 28 years of active duty during which he logged 8,000 hours total time in 26 different aircraft.
He loved Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
He is predeceased by both his parents; his wife of 53 years, Roberta J. Harcrow; and his sister, Lennie Muchow. Survivors include his brother, Jimmy Harcrow (Mary) of Dallas, Texas; sister-in-law, Eleanor Ferguson of Sacramento, Calif.; son, Lt. Col. Robert Harcrow (Ret.) of Phoenix, Ariz.; daughters, Patricia Harcrow-Orr (Joe Orr) of Mary Esther, Fla., and Nancy Mann (John, Col Ret) of Colorado Springs, Colo.; four grandchildren, Stacy Harcrow of California, Lt. Cmdr. Krista Mann of Virginia, Capt. John Michael Mann of Germany and Casey Mann of Ga.; and niece, Lynette Baugh (Jarod) of Texas; and numerous members of Lynette's family.
The family will receive friends, Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 from 5 to 7 p.m. at McLaughlin Mortuary. Funeral Services will be held at the First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at 11 a.m. with Dr. Howard Gates officiating. Following the Service, burial will be at Beal Memorial Cemetery with Full Military Honors.
Special appreciation to Home In Stead Senior Care, Sharon Hawkins, a VA Care Giver, Medical Staff providers, both civilian and military who have served the family so well.
Flowers are acceptable and will be received at McLaughlin Mortuary or for those who so desire, Memorial Contributions can be made to the First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach in memory of James Harcrow, a donation to the Veterans Organization of your choice or to a community office such as the Fort Walton Beach Police Dept., Sheriff's Dept., or Fire Dept.
Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at www.McLaughlinMortuary.com.
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News from Feb. 17 to Feb. 19, 2013