At age 95, Captain Ira N. Schwarz, US Navy Retired, left the bridge and passed away September 22, 2023. Ira was not alone; members of the Tarheel Central Chapter of MOAA were present during his last moments. He will be interned in The Arlington National Cemetery.
After high school, Ira spent three years in Aeronautical Engineering at Virginia Tech, but his education was cut short by the death of his father. In 1949, Ira joined the Navy where he completed heavier-than-air flight training and was assigned to lighter-than-air dirigibles and served a post-WWII tour defending the east coast from submarines.
He briefly flew amphibious aircraft like the PBY-5 with his next tour as an instrument flight instructor in SNJ & SNB aircraft, followed by General Line School at Monterey where Ira learned about ships and ship handling. He went on to Hawaii for a tour in VU-1, during which he completed jet transitional training. In 1960, Ira reported to the Naval Post Graduate School (NPGS) in Monterey, CA for further studies in Aeronautical Engineering.
Upon graduation, and switching to Aeronautical Engineering duty, Ira reported to the Senior Program Office (SPO) as Head, Inertial Navigation Section, and a part of the Navigation Branch. His group was responsible for the Ships Inertial Navigators (SINS), the heart of successful navigation at sea. To feed these systems they developed a satellite navigation system (later introduced for civilian use as GPS). They simultaneously perfected a periscope capable of exposure for only 30 seconds that recorded a 17-star fix. As he explained, “If you can know exactly where you are, you can accurately predict where your missiles will land!”
He next commanded the Navy Aero Structures Laboratory at Naval Station, Philadelphia, PA. (1966-1968). In Viet Nam with the Marines, he determined the cause of and solution for the catastrophic losses of H-46 and H-53 helicopters. Ira and his team determined what the structural life of the blades was and how long they could be over stressed before failure would occur. Thereafter, blades could be replaced on a timed basis before catastrophic failure occurred, a new standard that saved hundreds of crews and troops!
His next tour (1968-1971) was as the Officer Assignment Officer for all AED Officers, followed by Air Systems Command (1971-1973) as Head, Structures Branch. In this position Ira was privileged to serve on the initial design team for the F-14 aircraft. Part of his responsibility was the Airborne Mine Countermeasures Equipment and support and Ira again returned to Viet Nam when it came time to remove the mines from harbors there.
His next assignment (1973-1975) was as Commanding Officer, Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, CA. Ira became Commander, Pacific Missile Test Center from 1975-1976. This command comprised over 7,800 square miles of sea test range with three airfields; Point Mugu, San Nicholas Island and Barking Sands (in Hawaii). His responsibilities included testing each airborne missile against every navy aircraft platform.
Following that tour Ira returned to Washington as Deputy Director, Navy Space Program. In 1977 Ira retired from the Navy. As an aviator he logged over 8,000 flight hours in multiple types of military aircraft.
After retirement Ira became a major player with results in 1998 after nine years of North Carolina litigation that had the North Carolina Supreme Court uphold a decision that a breach of contract had occured and that State and Local government retirees were due a refund of taxes paid during years 1989 – 1997. The State agreed to put up a fund of $799 Million, under control of the Court, to refund the contested taxes paid by all North Carolina government retirees, Federal (military & Civil Service) and State and Local retirees. The Court was to administer the refunds, and Ira was appointed by the Court as Director, Settlement Administration.
The refunds were paid to all claimants by 2002. The final result was that every claimant, over 183,000, received a refund of all taxes paid to the State for the years 1989-1997 on government retirement benefits, PLUS an average interest of 19%.
A truly remarkable life of great accomplishments. RIP
With the deepest of regrets we are posting the loss of a long time dear friend of our Chapter.
CAPT Shelba H. “Hank” Wade, Jr., USN, (Ret) passed away on April 12, 2023, after a seven-year valiant battle with cancer.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1955, and became a naval aviator in 1963. Following his marriage to Gaye Sowers in 1963, they traveled to Rota, Spain for his first tour of duty. Other tours included Pensacola, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. After leaving active duty, Hank and Gaye moved to North Carolina and raised their two daughters, Deborah and Ashley. He continued his service in the Navy reserves until he retired with the rank of Captain in 1985. Hank worked as general manager of CENCO, Inc. and served as the company’s chief corporate pilot.
Community service was very important to him. He was active at Advance United Methodist Church in committee work and teaching. Hank also served as President of the Stratford Kiwanis Club, and in more recent years as President and other offices in the Tarheel Central Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
He will be sorely missed by us all. RIP
Terry Lee Hales, Col.,USA, Ret.
December 14, 1946 — April 9, 2023.
Colonel Hales was a proud veteran in the US Army and retired as a full bird colonel after 30 years with his service including two tours in Vietnam. A decorated military leader, he had the respect of many around him. After serving on active duty, he taught ROTC at Oak Ridge Military Academy, RJ Reynolds High School and Davie High School for over 20 years, teaching students the value of respect, loyalty and duty to country. He served these same students both inside and outside of the classroom.
Colonel Hales joined our chapter in 2015.
The following is from the March issue of the VFW MAGAZINE:
"...By March 29, 1973, all U.S. combat troops had left the country, (Vietnam).
U.S. military advisors to the South Vietnamese army and Marine guards at
the U.S. Embassy in Saigon remained until the fall of the city in 1975.
From Jan. 1, 1965, to March 28, 1973, a total of 2,594,000 U.S. troops-
including 7,484 women- served within the borders of South Vietnam. During
that same time period, a total of 3,403,100 U.S. troops, (including 514,300
offshore) served in the Southeast Asia Theater, which included Vietnam, Laos,
Cambodia, Thailand, and the South China Sea.
According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation, a total of 58,281
U.S. troops were killed in the war."
Here are some interesting facts about the names that are on the Vietnam
War Memorial Wall:
There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.
8,283 were just 19 years old.
The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.
12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.
One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.
997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.
1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.
31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.
Thirty-one sets of parents lost two of their sons.
54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.
8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.
244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War;
153 of them are on the Wall.
Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.
West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation.
There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.
The most casualty deaths in a single day was on January 31, 1968,
with 245 deaths.
The most casualty deaths in a single month was in May 1968,
with 2,415 casualties incurred.
MAY WE NEVER FORGET, THAT FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!
GOD BLESS ALL THOSE THAT SERVED IN THAT TERRIBLE WAR!
Heartiest congratulations to member Captain Laurie Wesley for her recognition in the MOAA Newsletter for her voluntary services aboard the Hospital Ship in Africa Mercy.
The full story of her time there in company with her late husband can be found at the link below.
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