Monona County

Lt. Col. Jack Oliver



Iowa, WWII Bonus Case file:

Name: Jack Lewis Oliver

Home: Onawa, Monona County, Iowa

Born: 13 Dec 1924, Franklin, Monona Co., Iowa

Parents: Wm. John Oliver & Hazel C. Albright Oliver

Military: 45th Troop Carrier Squadron, Sheppard Field, Tex.

Entered Service: June 1, 1943

Date of Discharge/Separation: May 10, 1946

Date of Departure for Foreign Service: August 31, 1945

Date of Return from Foreign Service: April 17, 1946

Social Security Death Index:

Born: 13 Dec 1924

Died: 22 Jan 2005, Elk Grove, (Sacramento), CA


May 16, 2005

Mr. William Wonder Editor & Publisher Onawa Democrat

I recently learned of the passing of a very dear friend and native of Onawa, Lt. Colonel Jack Oliver. Jack graduated with me from good old Onawa High School in 1943 where he was an excellent student, outstanding athlete and who participated in many extra curricular activities such as forensics, drama, vocal music and band. In fact we both played in a local "swing band" for several years while in high school.

As expected in those days, Jack enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps soon after graduating and went off to flight training which he completed in 1944. He served at several continental bases before his assignment in Hawaii as W.W.II wound down. Many people have told me that Jack was an exceptionally good pilot which I most certainly understand knowing him to be a perfectionist in his undertakings.

Following the War Jack attended Drake University in Des Moines and the University of California in Berkeley studying meteorology. He then moved back to Onawa where he later joined the National Guard as a pilot for an artillery battalion. As the folks around Onawa know this National Guard Unit was called up for active duty at the start of the Korean conflict and was sent to Germany to replace units that were sent to Korea. By this time Jack decided to make his service time count as a military career. From this point on he saw duty in a wide variety of Army bases located in South Dakota, Alabama, Kansas, Alaska, and in Thailand and the Philippines. Jack's experience made him valuable as an instructor to train young pilots and as an advisor to military personnel from other Nations especially third world countries.

He retired, if that is the right word, at Fort Rucker, Alabama and moved to Savannah, Georgia where he served as a Safety Officer (civilian) for an Army Helicopter Unit at the Hunter Air Force Base. With his health declining he decided to move to California to be near his daughter, Susan Godfrey, in Elk Grove. Jack succumbed to recurring health problems on January 22, 2005 but not before waging a valiant fight against such problems.

He is survived by his daughter Susan, two sons, Richard of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Steven of Manteca, California. Also his sister Maxine Peick of Lakeland, Florida and his former wife Jean Oliver Patterson of Alameda, California and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I suspect that there aren't too many folks in and round Onawa who remember that Jack's parents and grandparents were prominent local families who contributed much to the community in years past. Lewis (Lew) Albright, grandfather, was I think a former Mayor and City Councilman in Onawa. My grandfather, Jess Ropes served on the Council for many years with Lew. His grandmother Eliza Albright was very active in a number of community organizations and her Church, the Congregational, if I remember right. Likewise his parents, William (Bill) and Hazel Oliver were similarly active in many organizations including the American Legion and the Legion Auxiliary. They were a family with deep roots in Onawa and worked to make it a better place to live and raise children.

Jack gave much of his life to honorably serving his Country through W.W.II and several major military conflicts and the "Cold War". He was one of those "nice guys" that came out of America's Greatest Generation who will be dearly missed by those who had the privilege of being his friend. I am enclosing a couple of pictures of that "nice guy". One, as a newly "minted" pilot in 1944 the other as a very mellowed "nice guy" sixty years later. I sure will miss him! When I am in Onawa over Memorial Day I will give you a check for the Veterans Memorial Museum in memory of Lt. Colonel Jack Oliver. I know that his family would appreciate such memorials in memory of Jack and his service to our Nation.

John M. Ropes

Source: Onawa Democrat, May 25, 2005 (photo included)