Gary W. Parent headed West

We learned from Gary’s wife, Rita Parent, 39 Meadowcreek Drive, Melissa, TX that Gary died peacefully early in the morning of June 7 at home of pulmonary fibrosis. Rita said a memorial service is planned Sunday, June 15 at 1PM, Melissa Christian Church, 1708 W. Harrison, Melissa, TX.

Gary was diagnosed with IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) a debilitating and  always fatal Lung disease, in the spring of 2007. Many F-100 Pilots have been diagnosed with IPF and Gary is the 29th this long line.  There is a direct correlation with this disease and bleed-air leaks in the F-100’s J-57 engine.  A study by the Arizona State University, shows that F-100 pilots are 17% to 30% more susceptible than the general population, despite the fact that fighter pilots in general are in better health.

Colonel B. V. Johnson did significant work to publicize this prior to his death due to IPF in January 2013.

Gary submitted a well documented Veterans Affairs Application that shows the service connection for this disease. This application has received the highest level of attention in the Department of  Veterans Affairs in Waco, TX and Washington D.C..

Two months  ago, Gary wrote the following bio while in Hospice care at home while gulping large amounts of 100% oxygen:

Gary was born in New Rochelle, NY to Lt. Sr. Gr. Louis H. Parent, USN and Madelyn Farrington Parent, they moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when Gary was 4 months old.  They lived at first in a small starter home for 4 years and then moved to a home in a in Elm Grove, a Suburb west of Milwaukee where they lived for the next 45 years.

Gary graduated from Brookfield Central High where he wrestled and played some football and baseball.  He grew up having an extensive Newspaper route which served him well for income and a basis for an extensive coin collection he had in later life.   Gary graduated from a small private college, Ripon, with a BA in Math and Economics, and where he continued to wrestle and play varsity football until a knee injury put a halt to contact sports.

With the Vietnam War at its peak in 1967 when he graduated he took the Air Force’s flight aptitude test and was admitted to Officer’s Candidate School and Flight School at Enid, Oklahoma.  After receiving his wings he spent a year flying EC-47’s at Pleiku, Vietnam from May of 1969 to May of 1970.  He had always wanted fighters out of pilot training but with only one fighter given out to four UPT bases when 69-06 graduated, he was unable to fulfill he dream.  He volunteered for a second Vietnam tour and was awarded an F-100 for his efforts.

Gary attended fighter lead-in training at Myrtle Beach and then F-100 upgrade at Luke AFB, AZ.  While there in November of 1970 he flamed out an F-100D on a high drag bombing pass on the East Tac Range at Gila Bend.  As he pulled off on the pass he reported “two just flamed out” he had his hands on the ejection seat handles but wisely decided not to eject at the 490 knots that he was doing at the time.  The lead aircraft which was an ‘F’ model had his instructor who was getting a check ride in the front seat and the Stan-Eval pilot in the rear seat.  His instructor said “you did what?” on the radio and the Stan-Eval pilot said “you heard him” on the radio.  By then Gary had pull the throttle inboard, selected emergency fuel and hit the air-start switch.  Gary turned toward Gila Bend Aux field but since it was only 8 miles away he hit the end of the runway at traffic pattern altitude and doing 350 knots.  Making a wide circling right hand turn he dropped the gear at what he remembered to be over 250 knots and then threw down the flaps at over the recommended speed.  He started his right base turn and touched down but as he reached for the drag chute he noticed the RPM to be decreasing through 19%.  He stopped the aircraft on the runway and didn’t start shaking until he climbed out of the aircraft.  Postflight inspection revealed the  engine would not have restarted since the throttle cable was completely broken!

While at Luke AFB, Gary met the love of his life, Rita when he crashed a party that she was attending at Gary’s apartment complex.  They were married in February and Gary left for his second Vietnam tour in March.

At Phan Rang Gary was assigned to the 615TFS of the 35th TFW. He flew over 100 combat missions and then ferried the last “Hun’s” to leave Vietnam to their next assignment at Hanover AFB ANG unit.  Gary had to return to the war zone where he was a Combat Strike Coordinator at Task Force Alpha at Nakon Phenom AB Thailand.  After completing that almost full 13 month tour he was assigned to A-7D training at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ.

He returned home to his new family — Rita and newborn daughter, Amy.  At DM Gary started with the 357 TFS and then later the 333 TFTS where he became an Instructor.  Great TDY’s included Hawaii for 100 days at Kaneohe AB, HI and the Panama Canal Zone for a month.  Even though the early days of the A-7D included groundings because of a spacer problem in the engine, Gary continued to fly the A-7D and became the chief FCF pilot working for the Chief of Maintenance, his former squadron commander, Chuck Bradley.

In 1978 Gary was asked by the wing commander to convert to the A-10 and after a call to Randolph AFB confirmed they would have a steel grey for him if he didn’t take that assignment.  He was an instructor in the A-10 after 20 hours and flew again in the 333rd TFTS while remaining at Davis-Monthan.  The news of the A-10s going to USAFE seemed interesting since Gary had now been on base for 6 years.  The 81st TFW was starting a program called “Ready Thunder” which took half of the 10 pilots from their old F-4 unit and half from current TAC pilots that were instructors in the A-10.  This unit put the first four A-10 squadrons through top-off-training and gave a USAFE check ride in the Arizona desert.  They then ferried a fully combat ready squadron to RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk, England to replace an F-4 squadron. Afterwards, the Detachment 1 of the 81sr TFS, closed its doors and all ten pilots were sent PCS to various squadrons at RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge. Gary was assigned as a Flight Commander of the 91st TFS at RAF Woodbridge.  The 81st TFS continued to grow to 6 x A-10, 24 UE (Unit Equipped) squadrons.  The A-10’s flew a third of their missions at 4 forward Operating Locations in Germany and Gary now as Assistant Chief and later Chief of Stan-Eval was lucky to fly out of all the FOLs and all the home squadrons in England.  It was in this capacity of Chief of Stan-Eval that Gary earned USAFE’s “Well Done” Award that was published in the October 1981 “Air Scoop” Magazine and also nominated for USAF’s “The Koren Kolligan, Jr. Trophy” for the aircrew member who most successfully copes with an in-flight emergency.

Gary’s flying career continued after RAF Bentwaters when Gary’s boss the DO of the 81st TFS saw to it that a desk job in Alaska was turned into an instructor position back at Davis-Monthan, AZ.  Gary’s family were thrilled to move back into their old home, one they had bought in 1972 and had rented out while in England, although a little crowded since their family had grown to 4 with the birth of a second daughter in 1974.

In 1984 Gary attended Flight Officer Safety Course at Norton AFB, CA.  After graduating he became chief of Flight Safety for the Wing.  As such he was called upon to be the Investigator on two accidents, an A-10 out of Myrtle Beach and an A-7D out of the Buckley ANG, CO.  With retirement facing him he spent weekends of two and half years getting an MBA from Golden Gate University after starting in a program at the University of Arizona.  It was about this time that the Airlines started hiring in earnest and with all the young fighter pilots not filling all the vacancies they started hiring retired pilots.  Gary got caught up in the whirlwind and spent his terminal leave (June 1987) in class at American Airlines. After being assigned to O’Hare Airport he commuted for four years from Tucson to Chicago flying the B727 as a flight engineer both domestically and internationally in the Caribbean.  He then upgraded to First Officer on the Super 80.  Chicago was nice as he spent more time with his aging parents in Milwaukee.

In August of 1991 when commuting became harder Gary moved the family to the Dallas-Fort Worth area where he continued in the right seat of the S80 and then in the right seat of the DC-10 flying mainly Hawaii.  He found this route particularly nice since he found a nice layover activity of golf.  Here he would flyover and hit the golf course (Navy-Marine) and other military courses.  Then after a good night’s rest would get up early and play another round of golf, have lunch and then catch a nap before his night flight back to Dallas.  This went on for four years, 50 flights a year.  American decided to retire the DC-10 and so Gary upgraded to Captain on the S80 and flew that domestically and to Mexico and Canada from 2000 until retiring at age 6o in 2005.

After retirement he continued to golf and got some home projects done.  In the spring of 2007 he was diagnosed with IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) and his case was aggressive.  Many of our members of the Super Sabre Society have been diagnosed with this disease and Gary is the 29th according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  There is a direct correlation to this disease with bleed-air leeks on the F-100’s J57 engine.

If you know of others in our ranks are suffering from IPF get them in contact with Win Reither CIO of the Super Sabre Society and a very knowledgeable of VA compensation and Widows VA benefits (Widows Indemnity compensation) .

Gary AA

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