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Rear Admiral Paul Thomas Gillcrist USN Ret


1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Rear Admiral Paul Thomas Gillcrist USN Ret Obituary
Rear Admiral Paul Thomas Gillcrist March 22, 1929 - June 30, 2016 San Diego Rear Admiral Paul Thomas Gillcrist, USN (Ret.), passed away on June 30, 2016 surrounded by his immediate family.Paul lived a remarkable life as a husband, father, grandfather, Naval Officer, writer, and community role model. He was married for sixty years to his wife and soul mate, Nancy, who passed away on March 22, 2016. Together, their legacy of love, commitment, and service to each other, to family, and to friends/shipmates reached far and wide. They are survived by Jim and Katherine Gillcrist of La Jolla, Mary Gillcrist Bones of University City, Tom and Terese Gillcrist of Fallbrook, Peter and Amie Gillcrist of San Diego, and their nineteen wonderful grandchildren. Paul was born on March 22, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois to James and Florence Gillcrist. He was one of nine children from a large Irish Catholic family who grew up in Freeport, Long Island, New York. Those formative years, which included the Great Depression and World War II, forged character and backbone in the Gillcrist Clan. Paul graduated from the Naval Academy/Class of 1952 and went on to excel as a Naval Officer, Aviator, and Test Pilot in a career which spanned thirty three years. His operational commands included VF-53 (three combat deployments to Vietnam/167 combat missions), Carrier Air Wing Three aboard USS SARATOGA (CV-60), Naval Air Station Cecil Field and Fighter Airborne Early Warning Wing U.S. Pacific Fleet. As Commander of the Fighter Airborne Early Warning Wing, he became the first Flag Officer to land the F-14 Tomcat aboard an aircraft carrier. His significant shore assignments included Assistant Chief of Staff (Current Operations), Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; Commander, Naval Base San Diego and San Francisco; and multiple Pentagon tours to include Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Air Warfare (OPNAV OP-05). During his career, he received the following combat awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, 13 Air Medals, and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross. In 1985, Paul retired and was subsequently selected as "Tailhook Aviator of the Year" by the Tailhook Association, which later recognized him for a "Lifetime Achievement Award" in 1996. In 1990, he was nominated and selected into "The Golden Eagles" which is a prestigious gathering of "early and pioneering Naval Aviators" from within all of Naval Aviation. After his retirement, Paul worked for Northrop Aircraft Corporation, wrote numerous books about his experiences in Naval Aviation, served as a technical advisor for the television series, JAG, as well as the movie drama, Thirteen Days, and taught Creative Writing Classes to seventh and eighth graders at All Hallows Academy in La Jolla, California for over ten years. Paul's Funeral Mass will be held at Our Mother of Confidence Catholic Church in University City, on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 9:30 AM, preceded by a Rosary at 9:00 AM. A reception will follow immediately afterward. The interment will occur at Miramar National Cemetery at 1:30 PM with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, the Gillcrist Family requests that donations be sent to Noah Homes (an exceptional residential community for adults with developmental disabilities), 12526 Campo Road, Spring Valley, California 91978. The website is www.noahhomes.org.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Aug. 21, 2016
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