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William (Aka ) "Dj" (Tom) DeJarnette


1932 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
William (Aka ) "Dj" (Tom) DeJarnette Obituary
William (Tom) (aka "DJ") DeJarnette

Satellite Beach - William (Tom) DeJarnette (aka "DJ"), 86, unexpectedly passed away of heart failure on July 3, 2018 in his hometown of Satellite Beach, Florida while having lunch with his close friends. He was born in the country-crossroads farming settlement of Volens, Virginia in June of 1932 to Daniel and Inez DeJarnette. He later moved to the Tidewater region of Virginia as a young boy after his parents gained employment at the Portsmouth Naval Depot during the U.S. military buildup preceding its entry into WWII. Tom attended public primary and secondary schools in the Portsmouth area and earned his private pilot's license at the young age of 18, during which time he also bought and restored his own Piper J-3 Cub airplane. He enlisted in the Naval Air Reserve at the age of 19, flying weekend drills as an aircrewman and tail gunner in TBF Avengers, while working as a mechanical draftsman at the Portsmouth Naval Aviation Depot and attending junior college classes at night.

In 1953, Tom applied for and was selected into the USAF's Aviation Cadet Program. The following year, he successfully completed Officer Candidate School (OCS) and Primary Flight Training at Bartow AFB, Florida, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF Reserve. He subsequently completed Intermediate Flight Training at Reese AFB, Texas, and Advanced Transport Pilot Training at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma. Upon earning his USAF pilot wings in 1957, Tom received his first operational duty orders to the 377th Troop Carrier Squadron at the NATO air base in Dreux-Louvilliers, France, where he flew C-123 Provider aircraft in direct support of USAF Europe, NATO, and UN forces countering the attempted expansion of the Soviet Union during the early stages of the Cold War. He subsequently flew a variety of USAF transport, trainer, and photo reconnaissance aircrafts in both operational and support squadrons as a command and instructor pilot, while serving tours of duty at Stewart AFB, New York; Warner Robbins AFB, Georgia; Tachikawa Air Base, Japan; Osan Air Base, South Korea; Langley AFB, Virginia; and Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam. He was honorably discharged and retired from the USAF in September 1973 at Patrick AFB, Florida.

Following his USAF retirement, Tom began a second career in general (civilian) aviation, during which time he earned multiple FAA flight, instrument, instructor and civilian and commercial aircraft type/model/series ratings. He initially worked as the Chief Pilot for the Patrick AFB Aero Club and later in the same capacity at several other general aviation airports located in northern and central Brevard County. In January of 1976, Tom qualified as an FAA-designated Pilot Examiner and began administering private pilot, instrument, instructor, commercial transport, and aircraft type-rating check flights. In this capacity, he also issued initial FAA qualification certifications to over 3000 general and commercial aviation pilots throughout the Space Coast region during a 20-year period that lasted until he retired from flying in 1996. During his 45-year career as a pilot, Tom amassed over 25,000 flight hours in more than 60 different types of military and civilian aircraft, and even built his own award-winning Cricket MC-12 Experimental Aircraft in the spare bedroom of his home, which he flew in local air shows for several years in the late 80s and early 90s.

In his "ground-based" life, Tom was an active contributing member and volunteer in the Melbourne Masonic Temple, the Azan Shrine, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Quiet Birdmen (QBs), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the Indian River Kontrol Society (IRKS), the Eau Gallie First Baptist Church, and the Satellite Beach United Methodist Church.

Beginning at the time of his young boyhood, Aviation, and the excitement and binding human friendships that it generates and solidifies, formed the core of Tom's lifelong passion. His love of any man-made object that flew and, more importantly, the thousands of good-hearted people he befriended along the way who shared in this passion, endured up until the very last day of his life. During his long, full, happy, and rewarding life on this earth, Tom was above all, a believer in God; an American patriot; a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, and a father figure to many unrelated individuals he befriended and guided. His family and friends will forever remember him for his gusto for life, personal kindness, witty sense of humor and uncanny magnetic personality.

Tom is survived by his daughter Reneé LaBonia and son-in-law John; his daughter Michele Morton and son-in-law Ed; his two grandsons Stephen and Michael LaBonia; his younger brother Dr. Fred DeJarnette, PhD and sister-in-law Nadene; and his nieces Denise and Lisa DeJarnette. His hometown sweetheart and loving wife of 61 years Agnes and his caring and nurturing parents Dan and Inez DeJarnette preceded him in passing.

Family and friends visitation followed by a Memorial Service to honor Tom's life will be held on Thursday, July 12th at Florida Memorial Gardens, 5950 US-1, in Rockledge from 10:00 AM to Noon. Please access the following link for additional service details and directions: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/funeral-homes/rockledge-fl/florida-memorial-funeral-home/4467. Flowers may be sent to the Florida Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, or alternatively, Tom's family kindly requests that cash donations in lieu of flowers be made to the .
Published in FLORIDA TODAY from July 10 to July 11, 2018
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