WILDWOOD, Mo. - Maj. Gen. James I. "Bagger" Baginski (Retired USAF), 81, of Wildwood, Mo., passed away at home Sept. 23, 2013.
He was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1932. He graduated from The University of Maryland in 1954. Gen. Baginski earned a master's degree in public administration from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and was a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and the National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program in February 1954 and entered active duty in April 1954. He attended flight training at Stallings Field, N.C., and Webb Air Force Base, Texas. He was a command pilot, flying C-119s and C-130As, with more than 5,000 flying hours.
In August 1966 Gen. Baginski left for the Republic of Vietnam as a tactical airlift liaison officer with the 1st Cavalry (Air Mobile) Division at An Khe. In July 1971 he was the deputy chief of operations, 63rd Military Airlift Wing, Norton Air Force Base, Calif., and in May 1972 became vice commander. In May 1973 he took command of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan.
In February 1975 the general went to U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Airfield, Thailand, for duty as the Southeast Asia airlift commander in charge of project SCOOT-CE. After the fall of Cambodia, he moved to Saigon and when that city was evacuated was assigned to Clark Air Base, Philippines, in May 1975.
Reassigned to Military Airlift Command headquarters in September 1975, Gen. Baginski served initially as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations. In June 1977 he was named deputy chief of staff for personnel and in March 1979 became the command's deputy chief of staff for operations. He retired out of MacDill AFB in 1984, as the director of the Joint Deployment Agency.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal and Army Commendation Medal. He was a recipient of the Order of the Sword.
Gen. Baginski and his wife moved to Branchville after his military retirement where he pursued a consulting career in the defense industry, augmented by an occasional round of golf and maintenance duties for their equestrian facility, PasTime Farm, on Haggerty Road. Gen. Baginski also was a member of the Sussex County Horse Show Committee for the New Jersey State Fair.
He is survived by his loving family: his wife, Nancy A. (Boyd) Baginski; a daughter, Teresa M. Ruch and her husband, Richard, of Wantage; a daughter, Susan M. Baginski, of Wildwood, Mo.; a son, David J. Baginski, of Ballwin, Mo.; a son, Paul A. Baginski, of Centreville, Va.; a daughter, Amy L. Dodds and her husband, Mark, of O'Fallon, Mo.; his grandchildren, Rachael Hernandez and her husband, David, Laura Baginski, Patrick Baginski and Will Baginski; his step-grandchildren, Rhonda Moritz, Richard Ruch Jr. and Heather Gardinier; his sister, Genevieve Rafferty; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at noon Saturday, Sept. 28, at Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High St., Newton. Interment will follow in Frankford Plains Cemetery, Frankford Township. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the funeral home.
The family requests donations in lieu of flowers to the Airlift/Tanker Association Scholarship Fund. Send your donations to: Treasurer, Airlift-Tanker Association, 108 Sanctuary Cove, Yorktown, VA 23693. In the memo block, left of the signature, write: In memory of The Bagger. Online condolences may be offered at www.smithmccrackenfuneralhome.com