John Haile Cloe
1938 - 2016
Janssen's Evergreen Memorial Chapel - Anchorage
737 E Street
Anchorage, AK
Author and military historian John Haile Cloe, 78, passed away at his Lower Hillside home on Dec. 26, 2016, after a brief illness. His wife, Susan, and family were at his side.
Born in Fredericksburg, Va., John graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1963, and went on to serve 29 years in the U.S. Army. He served two tours of combat duty with U.S. and South Vietnamese Infantry units in Vietnam, then became an Air Force civilian historian and retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1992. His many writings include a series of highly regarded military history books.
When Virginia Military Institute was notified of his passing, a VMI official said: "John was the most decorated member of his class," an aspect of his distinguished career that the unassuming man never mentioned. Among his honors John received 10 Air Force level awards and was the Alaska Historical Society's Alaska Historian of the Year in 1992. He won the society's Pathfinder Award in 1988 and the American Aviation Historical Society's Author of the Year Award in 2004.
John won the Air Force Wing Historian of the Year Awards in 1976 and 1994. In 2003, Brig. Gen. Robertus Remkes cited John for 40 years of dedicated service to the nation. He was also awarded the Air Force Association's Exceptional Service Award and two Medals of Merit for his documentation of Air Force history in Alaska.
John's books include "Top Cover for America: The Air Force in Alaska," published in 1984; "The Aleutian Warriors, a History of the Eleventh Air Force and Fleet Air Wing Four," which was a comprehensive book about the Alaska Theater of World War II published in 1992; and "Mission to the Kurils," an account of the arduous but little-known World War II air and sea operations by American bomber crews against the Japanese Home Islands from Alaska's Aleutian Islands. "Mission to the Kurils" was published in 2016.
He also wrote a book about one of the projects he championed, the recovery and restoration of a P38 fighter plane from a crash site in Temnak Valley on Attu Island. The book was entitled "Saving The Lightning." The restored fighter is now on display at the Elmendorf Aviation Historical Park on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. John's friend, military colleague and fellow author Ted Spencer, retired executive director of the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, said John Cloe was a champion for the military heritage in Alaska.
John also wrote a book, "Attu, the Forgotten Battle," which will be published by the National Park Service in support of the National Historic Monument on Attu Island, which is owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Over the years John produced more than 40 histories and studies, many of them classified, covering the Cold War in Alaska.
In a review about "Mission to the Kurils" by Mike Dunham of the Alaska Dispatch News, Dunham noted that the 2016 book was the first history of the little-known war fought by American bomber crews flying from Aleutian air bases to attack targets in the Japanese Home Islands. In a news article about his passing, Dunham wrote that John's "encyclopedic knowledge of the military history of Alaska made him the leading expert on World War II in the territory."
In 1970, John was stationed at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., and, John told Dunham, the air conditioning broke so he "put in for a cooler assignment." John drove to Alaska via the unpaved Alaska Highway with his late wife, Cay, and was assigned as a historian at Elmendorf Air Force Base, a position he held until 2006. He made Alaska his home for the rest of his life.
John was widowed twice. His first wife, Harriet Catherine "Cay" Hill, passed away in 1992. He then met Jane Slisco and they were married in 1995. Jane died in 2008. John found love a third time with Susan and the two were married in 2011.
John's lifelong commitment to the military and its history led him and Susan to visit battlefields around the world. Three of the last four summers he guided groups of World War II history buffs on tours of sites of historic significance in the Aleutian Islands.
John was a member of the board of directors of the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Alaska Historical Commission and an elder at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Anchorage. He was active in the Air Force Association and the Eleventh Air Force Association, a group of World War II veterans who served in the Aleutians. He was also a private pilot and avid climber, reaching the highest point in 49 of the 50 states, missing only Denali in Alaska. (He attempted to climb both Denali and Mt. Everest but fell ill and was forced to abort both climbs.)
John is survived by his wife, Susan; stepdaughters and stepsons, Cynthia (Cindy) and Dan Ryynanen of Maple Valley, Wash., Christina (Andrews) and Rob Jennings of Napa, Calif., and Toms and Kelly Andrews, Christian and Leslie Andrews and Christopher and Kelly Andrews, all of Anchorage; and step-grandchildren, Lucas and Tyler Ryynanen and Susannah and Isabel Jennings, Claire and Gage Andrews, Polly-Faye Andrews and Lily and Sophia Andrews.
Funeral services will be held at St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, followed by a celebration of life in Waldron Hall at the church. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of John to St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 2222 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99507.
Arrangements are with Janssen's Evergreen Memorial Chapel.

Published by Anchorage Daily News on Jan. 8, 2017.
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15 Entries
John Cloe was a wonderful person and he will be so missed. My condolences to Susan and his immediate and extended family.
Bede Trantina
January 18, 2017
John, in his own right, will remain one of the great characters of Alaska. I shall always recall his uniquely interesting approaches to gathering the personal histories and recollections of the 'Greatest Generation' and from among Cold Warriors who'd alternately served in the Aleutians.

His ardent attention to details were legendary among colleagues and so many others. We, all of us (and untold generations who will yet 'discover the Aleutians'), will be appreciative of John's histories and his many stories. It is his lasting gift.

At times, more than his writing, I enjoyed his marvelous personal 'telling' of some of his stories and accounts. He was and will remain, for our time, a master story teller of the first order.

Blessings now, and in the days that will follow, for his immediate and extended family.

For the rest of us, we will miss our unique and very special friend.
Michael Haller
January 13, 2017
Thank you for your kind words. John was a great father (22 years)to me as an adult and a wonderful grandfather to my sons. He was an amazing father in law to my husband. We bonded as a family while my mom was living and have very fond memories of those times. Mom and John (Grandpa), rest in peace now together. We miss you and love you both dearly. Cindy, Dan, Lucas and Tyler
January 9, 2017
I am truly sorry for the loss of your loved one. No matter how long we have them with us, we are never ready to say goodbye. May you receive support and comfort from God, as promised at Isaiah 28:8.

With love and sympathy,
January 9, 2017
I knew John for the last 40 years. I have rarely met a more knowledgeable and gentler human being than he was. I will miss our conversations. My heartfelt condolences go out to his beloved wife Susan.
Ralph Papetti
January 9, 2017
John was a great man and a good friend. We will miss him greatly.
Tom Brennan
January 8, 2017
John Cloe, your country thanks you for your dedicated service. Rest in peace.
L Groh
January 7, 2017
Remembering your great love story today and always.
January 7, 2017
I am so sorry for your loss. I was surprised to hear of John' passing. I had received an e-mail from him about his latest book. John and I met in 1984 when I was still on active duty and we worked with the 11th AF association and several of their reunions.
Herman Thompson
January 5, 2017
Sorry for your loss. John was a great friend of my late husband, Don Delk. Don and John spent many thousands of man hours working on the P-38 recovery from Attu and other projects in Alaska.
Letti Delk
January 5, 2017
Words cannot adequately express our shock and grief. Such an extraordinarily kind and generous man. God's peace be with Susan and your families at this sad time.
Carol and Jim Kross
January 5, 2017
Please accept my sympathies. Know that the Father of tender mercies feel your pain and sorrow. Isaiah 61:1,2 says: "He sent me (Jesus Christ) to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . and to comfort all who mourn, . . . "
January 5, 2017
Offering my condolences to the family and loved ones. I'm so sorry for your loss. "May mercy and peace and love be increased to you. -Jude 2
January 5, 2017
John was a wealth of knowledge who's contribution to my book on Kiska was immeasurable. I stayed with John and Susan in 2015 and you are both very gracious. Thank you.
Brendan Coyle
January 1, 2017
With our thoughts and prayers for your loss. Please accept our condolences
Don and Liliane Hinrichs
December 31, 2016
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