Captain John (“Jack”) Wesley Bookhultz, USN, retired, died July 27, 2022 at his home in The Villages, Florida.
Born August 22, 1940, to Lewis and May Bookhultz in southern Maryland, he graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and attended Oglethorpe University and the University of Florida before enrolling in the navy flight in 1962.
In 1964, Jack earned his pilot wings and a commission at NA New Iberia, LA. That same year, he also met and fell in love with Gay Gran from Baton Rouge. They got married shortly after meeting and began a life of adventure that took them around the world. Jack has always said that their dynamic relationship was key to his success in life and in his career.
Jack thrived in the Navy. During his 29 years of active service, he served as a ship’s navigator, twice a flight instructor and as a safety officer with his squadron in Japan. He was the E-2 Hawkeye Squadron Commander on the USS John F Kennedy and later the Atlantic VAW Wing Commander at NAS Norfolk. Along the way Jack has accumulated over 6000 accident free flight hours and well over 600 landings as a VAW pilot aboard 6 different aircraft carriers.
His non-airline positions included, in the White House office of Vice President George Bush, coordinating Navy assets for use in anti-drug interdiction efforts at all U.S. borders, director of systems plans Navy Space Officers at the Pentagon and Administrative Review Judge for the Secretary of the Navy. Jack took advantage of the educational opportunities offered, completing Navy Legal School, earning a degree in International Relations at the Navy Postgraduate School, completing the Advanced Geopolitical Affairs Course at the U.S. Naval War College, and attending the Accident Investigation School. Navy aviation. He also conducted several JAG investigations and air crash investigations.
Awards include: Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Merit Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citations, Navy Unit Commendations Navy, Meritorious Unit Commendations, and other campaign ribbons and awards. Jack’s many deployments have taken him across the 7 seas, often with Gay traveling to welcome him to ports around the world. When not deployed, he and his family move frequently. They lived in the Philippines, Japan, Mississippi, California, Rhode Island and Virginia, often meeting up with other Navy neighbors from previous service.
Jack retired in 1991 and after living in Satellite Beach, FL and Haymarket, VA, and moved in 2003 to Grottoes, VA in the Shenandoah Valley. Gay died unexpectedly shortly after this move, but Jack was able to find happiness and community there, holding positions in the local Military Officers Association (MOAA) chapter, the Weyers Cave Ruritan Club and attending Mount Horab Presbyterian Church, where he sang. in the choir and served as an elder. While living in the Valley, he was often accompanied by his longtime friend, Sally Fulton of Augusta County, a retired educator from Blue Ridge Community College.
Jack’s wanderlust never subsided and he continued to travel with his friends and family to Poland, Greece, Italy, the Baltics, Finland and South Africa.
Jack is survived by his children: Grant Bookhultz and Shannon Lehman (Glenn), his grandchildren: John and Jessica (“Kate”) Lehman, and his siblings, U.S. Army Major Lewis Edwin Bookhultz, retired (Joy) and Judy Roberts (Jo).
A memorial service will be held at the Oxford Assembly of God on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 11 a.m. Burial with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery will take place at a later date. Donations to DAV Charitable Service Trust in lieu of flowers would be preferred.