Ralph Eugene Holbrook, 84, of Panama City, Fla., passed away Monday, April 12, 2009, at his home.
He was born in Prestonburg, Ky., and had lived in Bay County since Janu-ary 1953. Mr. Holbrook retired as a chief master sergeant after 22 years in the U.S. Air Force. Ralph served his country for more than a quarter of a century. After graduating from high school, he volunteered and served in the U.S. Army during World War II, fighting with the 1st Cavalry in the Philippine Islands.
He participated in the liberation of Manila and was wounded while walking point in the jungles of Luzon. For his actions in combat, he was awarded numerous commendations including two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After recovering from his wounds, he provided security for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and was present during the surrender ceremonies ending the war in the Pacific.
After the war, he returned home and married the love of his life, sharing his life with her for 53 years until her passing in 2003. After working for a while in his hometown, the military called him again, this time to the U.S. Air Force. First to the conflict in Korea, then to the frozen tundra of Greenland and finally to the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He rose to the highest enlisted rank obtainable of chief master sergeant and was one of the few airmen entitled to wear a Combat Infantry Badge. Of all his awards and commendations, his Good Conduct medal personifies him best.
He was known for always doing the right thing. His word was his bond. His handshake was better than any written contract. He was proud of his family name and more than once said he never had knowingly cheated anyone in his life. But … he was not above taking your money, if you bet against him and you lost in a fair game of chance. He was an avid fisherman and left his family with many memories of fishing expeditions. He had a long and successful military career, but will be best remembered by his family as a kind, gentle and humble man. He was greatly loved and will be deeply missed. He was a Mason and a member of First Baptist Church of Parker.
He was predeceased by his wife of 53 years, Alphoretta Holbrook; two brothers, Boyd and Charlie; three sisters, Gertrude Cash, Ortha Meece and Marie Vance; and his parents, Adam Kelsey and Virgie Lee Holbrook. Survi-vors include two children, Ruth Martin (Gene) of Chipley, Fla., and Gregory Holbrook of Panama City Beach, Fla.; five grandchildren, Shannan Andersch of Panama City Beach, Kelley Betliskey (Jeff) of Panama City Beach, Mikael Holbrook (Stephanie Prather) of Panama City Beach, Adam Holbrook (Melinda) of Jacksonville, N.C., and C.J. Joseph (Amanda Avirett) of Panama City; eight great-grandchildren, Ian Andersch, Hannah Andersch, Jeffrey Betliskey, Kristi Betliskey, Haiden Holbrook, Mikael Holbrook Jr., Addison Holbrook and Logan Joseph; sister-in-law, Peggy Shaw (William) of Lynn Haven, Fla.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Graveside funeral services will begin at 3 p.m. today, April 15, 2010, at Evergreen Memorial Gardens with the Rev. Dennis Pledger officiating. Interment with full military honors offered by the U.S. Air Force will follow. Serving as honorary pallbearers are Mikael Holbrook, Adam Holbrook, C.J. Joseph, Alex Andersch, Ian Andersch and Garrett Martin.Kent-Forest Lawn
2403 Harrison Ave.
Panama City, Fla. 32405
Published by Panama City News Herald on Apr. 15, 2010.