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James T. Tiernan

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James T. Tiernan Obituary
James T. Tiernan

San Diego

James died December 30, 2013, at his home in San Diego, California. He was 100

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, January 6, 2014 at St. Patrick's Irish Settlement Church, near Cumming, Iowa where Father Daniel Kirby will officiate. Burial and military honors will immediately follow in the St. Patrick's cemetery. Visitation will be held one hour prior to Mass in the church. Memorials may be directed to a church or and online condolences may be left for the family at

James was born on September 29, 1913, to James and Katherine (Waldron) Tiernan and raised on the family farm in Lee Township, Madison County, Iowa.

After working for various construction companies, Jim joined the U.S. Army in 1941, serving in W.W. II, the Korean Conflict and later helping train soldiers for Viet Nam. He married Maria Koelle in 1942. Jim left the army in 1962 with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer and began work for NASA as a final design, welding and test engineer at the Solar Plant in California. As the chief test engineer for the Apollo program, he was a design, inspection and testing engineer for radar, electrical and fuel systems which were manufactured at Solar. He was a final quality test engineer for all aspects of the moon landing program for Apollos 5 through 11. Jim retired from NASA in 1970 and spent the rest of his life in Southern California.

Before settling into their home in San Diego where Jim was a devoted volunteer for the V.A. Hospital for 25 years, Jim and his wife had traveled through the U.S., Europe, England, Ireland and Japan. Maria passed away in 2006.

Mr. Tiernan was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers (John, Giles and Francis) and his sisters (Rose Ellen and Catherine).

In 2010, Mr. Tiernan married Alice Pilcher in San Diego and she survives him. He is also survived by two sisters-in-law: Laverne (Giles) of Decorah, Iowa; Margaret (John) of Winterset, Iowa and 12 nieces and nephews.

Published in Des Moines Register from Jan. 4 to Jan. 5, 2014
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