Jack D. Abercrombie
April 14, 1923 - June 6, 2019
Col. Jack D. Abercrombie, a career military veteran of 35 years, passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 6, 2019—the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. He was 96. A memorial service will take place 10:30 a.m., Monday, July 15, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home in Waco, followed by military honors and the scattering of ashes at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen, Texas.
Jack was born on April 14, 1923, in Tonkawa-Three Sands, Oklahoma. With his father working in oil, Jack grew up living in several towns across the Midwest. He graduated from Salem High School in Salem, Illinois, in 1941 and attended college while also working as a welder in the oil industry. In November 1943, Jack enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was assigned to the 2536th Squadron H in San Marcos, Texas, where he began flight training. Stationed in England and assigned as an aircraft observer (aerial navigator) for B-24 Liberator bombers, Jack flew night missions over Europe in World War II. After the war, in 1945, Jack left the military and returned to the oil industry. In December 1949, he reenlisted as a Private First Class in the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to the 3700th Officer Candidate Training Squadron. Commissioned upon graduation as a Second Lieutenant, his first orders sent him to Lackland Air Force Base as a radar technician. In 1951, he was reassigned to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project and relocated to Sandia Base, the nation's principal nuclear weapons development and test facility located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Assigned a Q clearance, the Department of Energy's highest classification, Jack worked daily on projects that would soon shape history. In the late 1950s, he was reassigned to the 150th Tactical Fighter Group, Air National Guard, and deployed to support the rapidly expanding air war in Southeast Asia. As Wing Executive Officer of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Jack, then a Lieutenant Colonel, served a one-year tour of duty at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base.
In 1973, he moved to Colorado to join the 154th Tactical Control Group at Buckley Air National Guard Base, a unit whose mission was providing enhanced dimension to the nation's military capability, supporting air and ground commanders with specific information of enemy positions and movements. In 1977, Jack was promoted to Colonel and became the group's third commander. During the end of his military career, the 154th conducted ambitious, complex and noteworthy military exercises to develop and expand combat mentality. These exercises captured the attention of many service VIPs and general officers, and earned Col. Abercrombie the nickname of "the silver fox". A tribute both to his renowned tactical combat cunning and silver white hair. Jack retired in December 1981, with numerous commendations, honors and medals to his credit.
After retiring from a distinguished military career, he moved his family to 40 acres outside Marble Falls, Texas, to build a Hill Country retreat. Jack was an inquisitive, avid reader; ardent student of history; collector and restorer of cars; amasser of tools; teller of stories; builder of houses; and a natural leader—but most of all he was a loving husband and father who had a joyful spirit. He was loved, respected and admired by those who knew him.
He was preceded in death by his parents, David and Katie Abercrombie; first wife, ByrdDeen; and brother, Tommy.
He is survived by his wife, Rita; sons, John and wife, Joellen, Bill, Mark and wife, Leah, and Eric and wife, Alisan; grandchildren, Scot and wife, Maria, Mark, Joseph, Jessica, Stephanie and husband, Jay, Dylan, Kyle, Kyndel, Rowyn and Weber; and great-grandchildren, Logan, Jolene and Julian.
Flowers are welcome; memorial contributions may be made to the Abercrombie Family Scholarship at Baylor University, Office of University Advancement, One Bear Place #97026, Waco Texas, 76798-7026.
The family invites you to leave a message or memory in our "Tribute Wall" at www.WHBfamily.com.