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Rocky William Jefferson Crites

July 11, 1944 December 3, 2020
Rocky William Jefferson Crites
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Obituary for Rocky William Jefferson Crites
Captain Rocky William Jefferson Crites (USAF Retired) passed away on Dec. 3, 2020, and the world lost a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. He was a proud veteran and American hero.

Rocky was born July 11, 1944, in Abilene, Texas, to Lt. Col. Frank Crites (USAF Retired) and Lue Crites (Bowden).

He grew up in an Air Force family who lived around the world. Rocky graduated Johnson High School in Yokota, Japan, then graduated from Texas Tech University.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Rocky served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot. In 1969, he was among the first group of pilots assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron flying the first of the AC-47 ‘Spooky’ Gunships. The AC-47s were part of a highly classified operation.

After Vietnam, Rocky continued a successful career as an aircraft commander and flight instructor. He flew the C-141 ‘Starlifter’ out of Travis AFB, then moved to Webb AFB as an instructor in the international pilot training program. He flew the C-5A ‘Galaxy’ out of Dover AFB and was a flight instructor out of Altus AFB. He retired as an Aircraft Commander for the C-5A in Travis AFB after more than 20 years of service.

He received several honors for his many achievements in the Air Force. Rocky was awarded the Silver Star, our nation’s third-highest individual decoration for valor in combat, as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Presidential Unit Citations, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars and the Humanitarian Service Medal with an oak leaf cluster.

After retiring from the Air Force, Rocky flew commercially with Pan Am World Airways, then returned to flight instruction, spending several years as a C-17 Aircrew Training Flight Simulator instructor at Travis AFB.

Rocky was an active member of various organizations including VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association (the ‘River Rats’), Quiet Birdmen and Military Order of the Cootie.

Rocky was beloved by his family and friends. He would go out of his way to make people laugh and gave people he loved nicknames. He would sing old songs loudly, then determine that he was ‘in fine voice today.’ He was very mechanically inclined, and he always stopped to help a stranger having car trouble. He loved helping and supporting others. The people who knew him say he made them feel loved, feel welcome, feel happy. And for that he would be most proud.

Rocky is survived by his loving wife, Cheryl Crites (Neundorf); daughter, Wendy Crites Wacker; her husband, Andrew Wacker; and their children, twins, Aaron and Alex Wacker; son, Troy Crites; his wife, Kristie Crites; and their children, Rebecca, Charles and Jacob Crites; sister, Clara Dudak and her family; brother, David Lee Crites and his family; and his cousin, Bill Hanson.

He is preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial service with military honors and a celebration of life will be held in 2021.
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