Death of John Ree, A Long-time Supporter and Founder of AFA Chapter 285

        Lt Col (ret) John F. Ree


John Ree, a long-time AFA life member, died peacefully on 4 January 2020 at his daughter’s home in South Carolina.  A memorial service will be held on Saturday, 11 January at 2pm at the Oakey’s South Chapel, 4257 Brambleton Ave, Cave Spring, VA. 

John, aged 95, served as the Roanoke AFA Chapter president for a total of about seven years after joining the chapter in 1982 but remained active in chapter and state AFA activities until his health required him to move out of the Roanoke area just a few years ago.  He valued his friendships and service in AFA and was a true gentleman.

John joined the Army Air Corps during World War II and was the last remaining active veteran of that war in the Roanoke Chapter.  He volunteered for the Army aviation cadet program prior to turning 18 years old and was a second lieutenant and pilot by the age of 19.   After several months of stateside service, he deployed to the Pacific theater of operations as an OA-10A PBY search and rescue pilot in early 1945.  Initially stationed in Saipan, his unit later moved to Iwo Jima.  In August 1945, John and his crew flew his most notable and dangerous rescue mission, landing in Tokyo Bay under fire from a closing destroyer and shore batteries.  In about 13 minutes, they pulled three downed US Navy aircrewmen out of the water and successfully egressed the area.

Later that month, after the cease fire, John flew into Tokyo Bay once again, this time delivering a War Department courier to the USS Missouri.  This courier was carrying the surrender documents to the ship for the official surrender ceremony.

John transferred to the Air Force Reserves after the war and served for a total of 28 years, retiring as a Lt Colonel.  He worked in several engineering firms in New Jersey and New York prior to moving to Roanoke.  He’s survived by his daughter Linda Gaul and preceded in death by his wife of many years, “Dottie”, and his daughter Susan.


The chapter's Annual Awards dinner was held at the Vinton War Memorial on 30 April.  The well attended event featured Maj Gen (Ret) Michael "Boe" Boera as the guest speaker.  A 33 year Air Force veteran with over 5600 flying hours and 200 combat missions, he focused his presentation primarily on the 20th anniversary of "Operation Allied Force," the NATO air war over Serbia and Kosovo in early 1999.  He related his experiences as an F-16 squadron commander leading his Airmen against the robust integrated air defense systems of the Serbian army.  The importance of planning for every contingency, adapting to a changing wartime environment, and taking care of Airmen were lessons that can apply to all of us.  It was an informative and heartfelt presentation.
Annual chapter awards were presented to the following individuals for their great performances this past year:
Teacher of the Year:  Megan Graybill
Civil Air Patrol Cadet of the Year:  Lukas Otey (Not pictured)
E.C. Glass HS Cadet of the Year:  Alicia Jackson
Franklin Co HS Cadet of the Year- Christopher Taylor
Patrick Henry High School- Christopher Bohmer
William Byrd High School Cadet of the Year:  Eric Oliver (Not pictured)
VT AFROTC Cadet of the Year:  Domenic Angelo (Not Pictured)
VMI AFROTC Cadet of the Year:  Timothy Scott Hayes
Recruiter of the Year-SSgt Timothy Socha
Chap Members of the Year-  Paul Richardson and Scott Van Cleef 

Congratulations to all our award winners!