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John R. Ground

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John R. Ground, 76, meteorologist, died Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. Ground was a pioneer U.S. Air Force high-altitude balloon strategist and beloved Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta meteorologist for 10 years. He worked with Atomic Energy Commission scientists in Alaska to monitor fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the late '60s. Ground provided meteorological support for the earth launch of the first Viking Mars project. In 1987, during the explosion of a supernova, his operations and strategic expertise played a major role in the successful monitoring of the resulting gamma rays. This was the first launch of a large research balloon in the Antarctic. His career included positions at Hanscomb, Holloman and Kirkland Air Force bases and the Physical Science Lab at New Mexico State University.
He was the meteorologist for the Global Hilton round-the-world balloon attempt. Locally, he worked as the weather strategist for several competitive balloonists helping them set distance and durations records, two firsts in the Americas Challenge and two seconds in the Gordon Bennett world cup balloon race. He was a mentor to many.
He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Elizabeth Gonser Bailey Ground; his sons and their wives Michael and Sandy Ground, Steven and Diane Ground, William Ground and Mary (deceased); and his daughter Patricia Kirk and stepson Bruce Bailey. His grandchildren are Sarah and Matthew Ground, Daniel Ground, Samantha Kirk, and Genevieve and Christopher Bailey, and four great-grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother, George Ground, and sister Kay Golden and a large, loving extended family.
Funeral is at 12 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008, at Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Boulder, Colo., with burial at Sacred Heart of Mary Cemetery. A memorial service will be held in Albuquerque at a later date.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Dec. 4 to Dec. 18, 2008
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