Colorado Air National Guard honors passed member and friend Jack Wilhite

  • Published
  • By 140th Wing Public Affairs Office
Family, friends and members of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard came together for  a Celebration of Life for retired Col. Jack Elliott Wilhite at the Mark Johnson's Hangar, Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, in Broomfield, Colo, Feb. 8, 2015.

Wilhite's career began at the age of 19 when he was hired by the FBI to work under J. Edgar Hoover in Washington D.C. and Phoenix, Ariz.

He continued his service and joined the Army Air Corps, beginning a 32-year career as a pilot accruing more than 41,000 flying hours, 5,000 of those in military fighter jets.  In 1956 he transitioned into the Colorado Air National Guard. During his time in the military he served in multiple wars, to include WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. 

While serving in Vietnam he was awarded two distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals, a Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, 21 other awards and decoration and survived an ejection from an F-100 Super Sabre.

In addition to his military career, Wilhite served as a reserve officer at the Jefferson County Sheriff's department for more than 35 years. During that time he earned The Distinguished Service Medal, rescuing a Boy Scout troop and other citizens from a raging forest fire.

Wilhite's love of aviation was evident through his service as President, Vice President, Board Member, and Chairman of the Board for the Colorado Aviation Historical Society, including the CAHS Hall of Fame Banquet Chairman.

Wilhite was hired by United Airlines in 1956 where he spent more than 32-years as a pilot of the Convair 240, DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, and DC-10. Wilhite retired from United Airlines as a Captain in 1988.

After he retired from United Airlines, Wilhite continued his involvement with the aviation community by performing in airshow aerobatics; flying rare MiG-17 Fighter Jet, where he raised more than $400,000 for charity through ride donations.

Wilhite dedicated his time to educating the general public, especially children, about aviation history.