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Bruce Alan Ashcroft

Bruce Alan Ashcroft, Ph.D. Bruce Alan Ashcroft, Ph.D., 56, of Austin, was an Air Force Historian in the Headquarters Air Education and Training Command (AETC) History Office, Randolph AFB, Texas. Born October 20, 1951, in Washington, DC, he died on August 23, 2007, in San Antonio. An award-winning professional, Dr. Ashcroft developed the first major command history web page in the Air Force, investigated the alleged unidentified flying object crash at Roswell, New Mexico, and helped compile a 50th anniversary CD-ROM history of the Air Force that received a USAF Heritage Project Award. He developed the AETC photograph archive into a recognized national asset. Dr. Ashcroft received Air Force Excellence in Publications awards in 2006 for We Wanted Wings and in 2007 for Operation Dragon Comeback, which documented AETC's effort to provide humanitarian relief to victims of hurricane Katrina and restore training at Keesler Air Force Base, MS. Dr. Ashcroft was a recognized authority on the contributions of minority groups, especially Hispanic Americans and women, to the Air Force. Background information he provided for the Order of the Daedalians helped obtain membership for the US Army Air Forces women pilots of World War II (WASPS) who flew in civilian status. In addition to his book The Territorial History of Socorro, NM, his articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in numerous publications and currently in blogs. The Spanish-language edition Aerospace Power Journal published his articles about Hispanic Americans in the Air Force as well as a series about Latin American and Hispanic American aviation pioneers. He also developed a series of children's books. An accomplished speaker, he keynoted at the National Museum of the Pacific War's Desperate Days Symposium and the National Archives and Records Administration's World War II Hispanic American Heroes Conference. Dr. Ashcroft was also an educator and most recently an Assistant Professor teaching undergraduate aviation history and graduate capstone courses by distance education for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He earned a Bachelor's Degree from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, a Master of Arts Degree in History and an MBA from New Mexico State University, and his PhD in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He served as an Officer in the US Navy and Naval Reserve. A most notable characteristic was his optimism. He was an athlete, a fan, a fearsome pitcher, and most enjoyed playing "full-contact softball". He was curious and read widely and well. He and his wife enjoyed gardening and traveling to tree houses. He loved his family and friends, especially when they were laughing. He also loved his historical work, especially helping others with information and photographs; the Wildflower Center, one of the places he went for the simple joy of being in natural beauty and seeing the animals, reptiles, and insects; and the University of Texas for its standards, traditions, libraries, and interesting people. Preceded in death by his mother Elisabeth, he is survived by his father Herb and step-mother Janet Ashcroft of Mesa, AZ, sisters Sue Yates of Honea Path, SC, and Sharon Ashcroft of Gilbert, AZ, brother Mike Ashcroft of Glendale, AZ, son Scott Ashcroft of Frederick, MD, daughters Erin Floyd and Tammi Warren and grandson Ty Warren all of Lynchburg, VA, wife Dean Judy Ashcroft and step-children Chris Copeland and Cara Copeland, and Scooter Cat Ashcroft all of Austin. A Memorial Service will be held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin, at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, August 27, 2007; family will receive guests at 3:00-4:00 p.m. following the service. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Ashcroft indicated that memorials should be made to the Education Program at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center where Bruce was an enthusiastic volunteer and especially loved introducing children to the wonder of snakes, reptiles, bats, and spiders.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Aug. 26, 2007
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