Col. Henry Jack Wilson, Jr.
August 24, 1937 - July 18, 2021
Belleville, Illinois - Colonel (USAF Retired) Henry Jack Wilson, Jr., 83, of Belleville, Illinois, passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 18, 2021 surrounded by his family.
Jack was born in Frankfort, Kentucky on August 24th, 1937 to Henry Jack and Mabel Frances (Jones) Wilson. He is preceded in death by both parents and his sisters, Norma Jean Johnson Wilson and Deborah Ann Wilson.
Jack is survived by his beloved wife of 61 years, Billye Ann (Howard) Wilson of Belleville, Illinois, his daughters Christi Brendlinger (spouse Col. Eric Brendlinger) of Dayton, OH and Shari Cannon (spouse Micheal Buckner) of Fairfax, VA, three grandchildren Erin Berrey (spouse Ivan Berrey), Tyler Brendlinger (spouse Rachel Cano Brendlinger), Jack Brendlinger and two great granddaughters, Willow Mae Berrey and Amelia Lou Brendlinger.
Colonel Wilson proudly served his country for 30 years in the United States Air Force. He was a C-130 pilot during the Vietnam War where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after a daring rescue of over 100 Green Berets... while under fire. He also earned the Legion of Merit, Air Medals and numerous other medals throughout his career but this was the act that he was most proud of. That and the fact that none of his airplanes "ever took a single round." When asked how he managed it, he always said, "God was my co-pilot." With the help and support of his loving wife, he was able to earn both a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky, and a Master's degree in Aerospace Operations Management from the University of Southern California.
When not fighting wars, seeking an advanced education, problem solving or raising girls, he enjoyed riding his motorcycle, sailing, and had an intense need to take things apart to see how they worked, but always managed to put them back together with very few parts left over. He liked a wide array of music, working on anything with an engine, and was an accomplished artist and architect. Jack was a firm believer in the second amendment and spent hours with his girls and grandkids going to the range for target practice. He loved a good argument as much as he loved a good laugh. He was passionately devoted to his wife and family, God and his church community.
He was unique, a man of unparalleled integrity who was generous with his time, his resources and his talents. He is beloved, and will be missed by all.
Visitation will be from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Friday, July 30th, 2021 at Valhalla Gaerdner Holten Funeral Home, Belleville, Illinois.
Funeral will be at 1:00 pm on Friday, July 30th, 2021 at Valhalla Gaerdner Holten Funeral Home, Belleville, Illinois.
Interment will follow at Valhalla Gardens of Memory Cemetery, Belleville, Illinois.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (https://www.alz.org
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Published by Belleville News-Democrat on Jul. 25, 2021.