August 25, 1930 - December 10, 2012
Roadrunners Internationale, CIA, and the USAF lost a remarkable icon of aviation with the final flight of Lt. Col. Jackie G. Reed, USAF (Ret) in Gransbury, Texas on December 10, 2012 at age 82. Colonel Reed, then a major, arrived at the 1129th SAS at Area 51 in in August 1965 to join Major Hal Rupard as the second of only two Air Force officers assigned to the CIA D-21 drone Project Tagboard. Both Reed and Rupard were chaosen for the CIA D-21 drone project because of their extensive experience as Bomber/Navigators in the Air Force's B-58A Hustler. Following the fatal crash of the D-21 into the M-21 mothership, Majors Reed and Rupard transferred to the 4200th Support squadron at Beale AFB, California to continue the D-21 program using B-52 planes as their launch vehicle under Project SENIOR BOWL.
Jackie G. Reed, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Ret.), passed away gently and peacefully in Granbury, Texas, on December 10, 2012 after a brief illness.
Jack was born near Rio Vista, Texas, on August 25, 1930, to Joseph Jefferson Reed and Stella Grant Reed. The family later moved to Shallowater, Texas, where Jack was raised. He graduated from Shallowater High School in 1947 and enrolled at Texas Tech University to study engineering. There he met Norma Jean Cary, of Brownfield, Texas, his future wife.
After completing three years at Texas Tech, Jack joined the United States Air Force in January 1951, as an enlisted man during the Korean War. His abilities soon won him entrance to the Aviation Cadet program and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1953. He and Norma married on June 19, 1953, in Lubbock, Texas, Norma having graduated from Tech in 1952.
Jack's personal and professional life was unique and rewarding. It put him on the front row of his country's efforts to maintain freedom in the world during the Cold War, whether it was making sure that a nuclear weapon would find its target if needed, briefing presidents about the warheads available to both sides, or making sure that the United States would know what a potential adversary had in its arsenal or up its sleeve.
He completed flight training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, as a bombardier/navigator and was initially assigned to B-36s with the 95th Bombardment Wing, Strategic Air Command, Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas in 1953. In 1954, Lt. Reed was selected for assignment to the B-47 program, and transferred to Mather AFB, Sacramento, California, for training. Jack and Norma's first child, Jack Weldon, was born in Sacramento on August 20, 1954. From 1954 to 1960, Jack was assigned to the 2nd Bomb Squadron, 22nd Bombardment Wing, March AFB, Riverside, California. While at Riverside, Jack and Norma's daughter, Sheila Kay, was born on February 25, 1957; their second son, Stephen Earl, was born there on October 5, 1958. From 1960 to 1965, Jack was assigned to B-58s with the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bombardment Wing, Carswell AFB, Fort Worth, Texas.
In August 1965, Major Reed was one of two Air Force officers selected for assignment to the CIA/USAF programs OXCART/TAGBOARD/SENIOR BOWL at Groom Lake, Nevada and subsequently Beale AFB, California. The program, only recently acknowledged by the U.S. government, developed, flight-tested and operated what were then, and remain, some of the fastest and most sophisticated aircraft in the world, the A-12, M/D-21A/B and SR-71 strategic reconnaissance platforms. They performed critical missions during the Cold War, ensuring the United States' ability to keep tabs on its adversaries' critical technologies and activities.
In 1971, Lieutenant Colonel Reed continued those efforts at Headquarters, Air Force, The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, where he continued work on air and space-based reconnaissance assets, including the U-2R, as well as some of the first unmanned aircraft flown by the United States military. He retired from the Air Force on July 31, 1975, after accumulating approximately 6,000 flight hours in his Air Force career.
Jack then began a new career with the Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington, continuing his work on unmanned aircraft. He was lured to Salt Lake City, Utah, by officials at the Sperry Corporation to be their Group Manager for Space and Special Projects. His development work in the Air Force and at Boeing and Sperry on unmanned air vehicles and remotely piloted aircraft directly led to the extensive use of those systems today by various military departments and government agencies. He was also a key player in developing enhanced capabilities for the satellites that ensure our country's ability to accurately understand the activities of other nations, friendly and unfriendly. He retired from Sperry in 1994, and in 1999, he and Norma moved to Pecan Plantation, Texas.
Those who knew Jack personally and professionally know the principles that guided his life and were not subject to compromise. He was a patriot who believed fervently in the benefits of freedom and democracy, and who considered service to the United States an honor and privilege. Jack's cheerful demeanor and positive attitude allowed him to motivate and lead others, even in the face of adversity. He did not ignore problems, worked hard to reach solutions, and more often than not succeeded. Jack had little patience for bureaucratic inefficiency, individual indifference or incompetence. But he always respected and helped those who were doing their best.
Though committed to service, Jack was not consumed by work. And despite numerous and lengthy absences from home to serve his country, he loved and mentored his children, participated in their activities, was a deacon in church congregations, and found time to travel and enjoy the outdoors, particularly the challenge of fishing. Children - his own, his neighbors' or even total strangers' - were drawn to Jack because he genuinely enjoyed helping them know more about the wonders of this world, how it worked and what made things grow.
Most importantly, however, the mutual love, affection, respect, support, and comfort which he and Norma shared provided a firm foundation for him throughout his adult life. The family is grateful for the numerous displays of affection and acts of kindness provided to Jack during his final days, particularly the compassionate and professional care and attention provided by hospice and the staff at Waterview.
Survivors: Jack is survived by his wife of more than 58 years, Norma, of Granbury, Texas; his brother, Bobby Joe Reed (Anna) of Knapp, Texas; children Jack W. Reed (Cathy) of Salt Lake City, Utah; Stephen E. Reed (Jama) of Palmyra, Virginia; son-in-law Bob Evans (Nancy) of Williamsburg, Virginia; grandchildren Stuart, Travis, Rebecca, Whitney, Danika, Samantha, Julia and Elena, and great granddaughter Cora. He was pre-deceased by his daughter, Sheila Kay Reed Evans.