Michael McClosky

Obituary of Michael McClosky

Michael Jay McClosky, 81, of Alamo, California, passed away on May 22, 2020, after a battle with ALS. He was surrounded by family and passed peacefully. Michael is survived by Ann, his wife of 48 years, of Alamo, California, and his sons Marcus of Auckland, New Zealand, and Brian of Spokane, Washington. Michael was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 5, 1938. The youngest child of Murray and Goldie and brother of Robert and Mona, Michael moved to Miami Beach as a teen where he graduated high school, worked as an apprentice electrician, and enjoyed motorcycles and spear fishing. Michael enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1958 where he had a distinguished career, being commissioned as an officer and retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1978. During his time in the Air Force, among many assignments, Michael served in the First Flight Detachment, MACV-SOG in Vietnam, for which he received the Bronze Star. He also seeded hurricanes and was on an Apollo rescue mission. While stationed at Lajes Field in the Azores, Michael met Anise (Ann) Weatherly, who was on assignment as an elementary school teacher. Michael and Ann were married in Papillion, NE on July 9, 1971. Michael attained a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics with Distinction from Colorado State University in 1968 and a Masters in Computer Science from Purdue University in 1974. After his retirement from the Air Force, Michael worked as a software engineer in Boston, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area. He retired in 2005. Michael was a member of the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley, the local chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), First Flight Reunion, and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Michael was a patriot who loved and was proud of his family and his country. Michael had a lifelong love of learning and flying. He was an avid reader, and had a keen interest in politics and international affairs, history, and football. An eternal optimist, Michael believed in hard work, self-reliance, determination, integrity, and service to his country. He will be missed, and we will always remember him. Funeral services will be held for Michael at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on a date to be announced, where his remains will be laid to rest. Ltc Michael J McClosky (USAF Ret) Ltc McClosky spent his teen years in Miami Beach (ne, South Beach), Florida, where he majored in riding English motorcycles and spearfishing. After graduating from high school he worked as an apprentice union electrician before enlisting in the Air Force. Although he had only 7 semester hours of college he was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Navigator flight program (the Air Force must have been desperate). After graduating from Navigator training and commissioning as a Reserve 2nd Lt at Harlingen AFB, Texas he was assigned to Bombardier training at Mather AFB, California. Graduating in the top 2% of his class, he was allowed to select his combat crew assignment in Strategic Air Command (SAC). Rather than selecting the B52 where he would be the junior of 3 navigators on a 6 man crew, he chose to be assigned to fly the 3 man crew B47, considered by SAC and General Curt Lemay to be the “navigator’s airplane”. Approximately 3000 B47s were built. The sole mission of the two pilots of the B47 was to support the Navigator/ Bombardier in his assigned duties to deliver the aircrafts thermonuclear weapons to its intended targets. Lt McClosky chose a B47 assignment to the 19th Bomb Wing, 93 Bomb Squadron, Homestead AFB, Florida (coincidentally 30 miles south of Miami Beach). He was assigned as the navigator to a lead combat crew, and immediately checked out as combat ready; at which time he was given a “spot” promotion to 1st Lt, 6 months ahead of his classmates. Other B47 assignments within SAC to the 306th Bomb Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida and the 509th Bomb Wing (World War II: Hiroshima and Nagasaki) at Pease AFB followed. While at Pease AFB, Lt McClosky was selected to become a Regular USAF officer. In addition to flying duties, he attended college classes provided on the bases to which he was assigned. He managed to acquire 2 years of college at Florida State University, the University of Tampa, And the University of New Hampshire. While assigned to SAC B47 wings, Lt McClosky pulled nuclear alert at his home bases, and participated in alert deployments to Morocco, Spain, and England. He was deployed to Morocco for the Berlin Wall crisis, and spent almost 2 months straight on alert at various distributed deployment bases during the Cuban Missile crises (MacDill Air Force Base had been taken over by various Tactical Air Force Squadrons for the expected invasion of Cuba). SAC’s targets remained the Soviet Union. The 100% alert of SAC B47 and B52 ground and 24 hour airborne alert missions caused Nikita Khrushchev to blink (the Polaris and SAC ballistic missiles were always on 100% alert). Normally SAC bomber alert forces were at 50% alert, crews were on alert one week, off one week during which (almost always at night) the B47 crews flew 10 to 14 hour and B52 crews flew 10 to 24 hour training missions. In October 1965, after assignment to the 509th Bomb Wing, the newly promoted Captain McClosky was assigned to MACV SOG (originally Special Operations Group, renamed to fool no one became Studies and Observations Group), First Flight Detachment, Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam as part of OP34A. For an excellent description of OP34A and its relation to Robert McNamara, President Lyndon Johnson, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refer to the book Dereliction of Duty. MACV SOG reported directly to the War Room in the White House. SOG’s operations and existence of the First Flight Detachment were finally declassified in 2000. The First Flight Detachment took over operations from the CIA in 1965; the unit members wore civilian clothes, and were made up of members from all branches of the military AND foreign nationals. The aircraft was the C123, equipped with Electronic Warfare Counter Measures, Doppler radar, etc. The aircraft were painted gray with no national markings or tail numbers, although there were slots on the sides and tail to place national markings and tail numbers. Part of the secret war had been turned over to the US military. Everyone but the American public knew what was going on. Prior to Capt. McClosky’s re-assignment, The Unit started to receive C130 aircraft *with* USAF markings. The unit became incorporated into the 15th Special Operations Squadron, and is now known as the Air Force Special Ops, known for actions in both Gulf wars and Afghanistan. The aircraft now even sport 75mm cannon and 30 mm Gatling guns with a 13 person crew. After Vietnam Capt. McClosky was selected by the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) program to attend Colorado State University to complete his undergraduate education. He graduated in 2 years with a BS with Distinction in Computer Science. His next assignment in 1969 was to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (WRS), “Hurricane Hunters” flying WC130B aircraft at Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico. Because of turbulence encountered during hurricane penetration, the WC130B had no external wing fuel tanks. Hurricane penetrations typically required two reports from the eye of a hurricane 6 hours apart. During this one year assignment Capt. McClosky participated in over 25 hurricane penetrations in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean, including the national news covered seeding of hurricane Debby east of Jacksonville, Florida. A hurricane was assigned to a specific crew; fortunately or unfortunately Capt. McClosky missed Hurricane Camille, flown by another crew. He also missed the CBS evening news appearance in another hurricane flown with Walter Cronkite. The year 1969 had a busy hurricane season. He did fly other missions, such as the BOMEX research project in the Caribbean run by the U.S. Weather Service, with participation of NASA and the Navy, requiring a 10 days hardship TDY to Barbados, West Indies and forced to stay at the Hilton Hotel. Other activities including weather reconnaissance flights to Europe in support of fighter aircraft and army airborne force deployments to Europe. There were also flights over underground nuclear tests conducted in the Nevada desert to verify no radioactive leakage ever left the boarders of the United States, thus not violating the treaty halting above ground testing. After these flights the aircraft had to be hosed down by specially outfitted ground crews before the crew could exit the aircraft and have their dosimeters checked. The WC130B aircraft was outfitted with large air-scoops on each side of the fuselage to sample for radioactive material produced by nuclear tests of any nation in violation of the above ground nuclear test ban treaty. His next assignment was to the 57th Aerospace Rescue and Reconnaissance Squadron (ARRS), where he was promoted to Major. The 57th ARRS was stationed in the Azores flying the HC130H aircraft. The aircraft was equipped with a large antennae on the top of the fuselage provided by NASA for contact with space capsules (including Apollo space craft), an enlarged front radome with IFF/SIF capability, and nose “whiskers” for ground extraction of downed airmen and in-air space research capsule pickup. The crew included two (extremely brave and skilled) para-rescue men willing to jump into 30 foot swells in the middle of an ocean storm to aid a sick or injured seaman, or hostile jungles to rescue a downed airman. As a member of the 57th ARRS, Major McClosky participated in “Duckbutt” missions to provide overwater navigation assistance and potential rescue assistance for fighter deployments as well as President Nixon’s “Air Force One” flight to Europe. There were also several TDYs to Iceland to pull rescue alert. Notable was a TDY to the sister squadron at Woodbridge, England to provide for a navigator shortage. This TDY resulted in his being sent to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean in support of an Apollo moon landing. The crew was responsible for any recovery in South America, the South Atlantic, Sub-Sahara Africa, and the Indian Ocean! Several days after reaching Ascension, Capt. McClosky’s crew was notified that Apollo 13 was in trouble, and that Apollo 13 was scheduled for splash down in the Indian Ocean and they were primary for the rescue attempt. NASA was able to maneuver the space ship to re-enter at its primary original destination in the Pacific Ocean, where the majority of the recovery effort, including naval vessels were positioned. He was next assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command. As a Specified Command, SAC bypassed the JCS, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense. Major McClosky was assigned to the Simulation Branch, where he was responsible for programming the war gaming simulation of World War III. The results were reported to the Joint Targeting and Planning Staff (JTPS), responsible for targeting selection of all USAF, Navy, and Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Nuclear weapons. When President Carter ordered changing the United States nuclear defensive Triad of bombers, ICBMs, and Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), to rely solely on SLBMs. the JTSP requested an emergency modification of the computerized War Gaming simulation program to validate this change. The normal cycle of modification, testing, and multiple runs took several month. Major McClosky obtained dedicated use of the SAC planning and simulation main frame computers, made emergency assembly language patches to the programs, eliminating everything but the SLBMs, tested and ran the simulations; all within 3 days. The results were reported to CINSAC, JCS, Secretary of Defense, and President Carter. Plans for elimination of the Triad were cancelled that same week! After only two years of his four year assignment at HQ SAC, Major McClosky received orders to again attend the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) program, this time in pursuit of an MS in Computer Science at Purdue University. After completing his MS in Computer Science in 18 months, Major McClosky was re-assigned back to HQ SAC, where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took command of the Software Utilities Branch of the World Wide Military Command and Control (WWMCC) Division of the SAC nuclear deterrent. WWMCCS included the SAC Command Post (made famous in numerous Hollywood movies) as well as actual targeting for the Nuclear forces, bomber route planning, etc. During this four year tour, all of the earth’s land and undersea terrain was mapped and placed into SAC’s computer data base. This was what then, and may still be, the world’s largest data base. The data base was used for terrain following navigation for the newly developed cruise missiles. Rather than accept a by-name assignment to the JCS staff, Ltc McClosky elected to retire, and join the rapidly developing computer industry. He held software development positions in Boston, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and finally Silicon Valley. He spent most of his 25 years in the industry working at various computer startup companies, developing computer languages such as Fortran77, J73 Jovial, Pascal, C, C++, and a Java like simulation language for hardware test equipment. He is presently retired. He is a LIFE Member of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and currently serving as elected Sergeant at Arms for the Contra Costa Chapter – MOAA. Awards: Bronze Star, Air Medal (5 OLC), Air Force Commendation (OLC), Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Crew Readiness, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign (3 Battle Stars), Air Force Longevity (4 OLC), Small Arms Marksmanship, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; USAF Master Navigators Wings, Nationalist Chinese Navigator Wings Aircraft flown as Navigator: (Aircraft 1000+ hours: B47, 1000+ hours: C130, 1000+ hours: C123, T29, KC135, A1H, C121, C141, C45, T39 Ltc McClosky also has an FAA single engine Commercial Pilot and Instrument rating. His wife, Ann is from Mobile, Alabama.  They reside in Alamo and have two sons: Marcus and Brian. Marcus is an attorney Licensed in California and New Zealand, presently corporate attorney for an insurance corporation in New Zealand. Brian is studying for a computer science degree and resides in Spokane, Washington.

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