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Capt. Jerry Coffee  
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In his memory:


Capt. Jerry Coffee
VFP-62 circa 1960-63




Updated: December 9, 2021

[Webmaster's Note: This page is under construction and will be updated as tributes from family, friends, and former Navy members are received. Contact Webmaster on the link below.]


    Memories and Tributes


  • (7/7/21)

    Obituary:



    We are saddened to relay the news of Captain Jerry Coffee's passing on Friday November 12th 2021 after 87 years and countless achievements.

    It is always difficult to find a way to fit a great man into words, medals, and even history but we take solace during these times in something he was known for- his undying spirit. Jerry's achievements as a military officer, speaker, public figure, and author will leave a legacy we are all a part of. Though he was most happy to be known as a man of family and faith.

    His traditional speech on honor to the Naval Academy plebe class continues to remind future leaders the importance of integrity and faith.

    His love for his family and country will continue on with his six children, ten grandchildren, and one great grandchild, all of whom share Jerry's immense kindness and spirit of adventure.

    His talent and patriotism will remain in history books with his missions flying over Cuba to reveal FROG missiles in October 1962. His survival, grit, and bravery will remain a tale of American heroism from his 7 years as a POW in Vietnam's infamous Hanoi Hilton.

    Captain Gerald Coffee's legacy is that of faith, patriotism, survival, humility, and honor and like his undying spirit, his legacy will last forever.



  • Memories and Testimonies

  • (12/9/21)As you have seen, our "In Memoriam" page opens with a poem by Jerry and is attached with his description of how it was written in his North Vietnamese prisoner of war cell. It also opens my new book "Eyes of the Fleet Over Vietnam: RF-8 Crusader Combat Photo Reconnaissance Missions." I did that because it shows the sensitive man he was and illustrates that people can survive difficult life experiences by having hope and faith.

    Also in the book, I describe how I met him in the VFP-62 photo shack on the flight line. Pilots often would stop there before or after their training missions. I was a newly graduated photomate in the squadron and struck by his demeaner and G-suit---he looked like a fighter pilot's fighter pilot. In the book, I describe how later, as a college student, I happened to see a TV video of American POWs being paraded in the streets of Hanoi and recognized Jerry with his head bowed.

    Years later, as the webmaster for this site, I made contact with Jerry and asked him to help me with the writing of my first book: "Blue Moon Over Cuba: Aerial Reconnaissance During the Cuban Missile Crisis." As always, he graciously described his missions during that perilous time (see below excerpt). The book was released during the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jerry was interviewed on the CBS Sunday Morning program.

    He was one of the handful of people you meet in life that serve as a guide to how one should conduct their life and remains in their memory for ever. Give us "One More Roll" Jerry.

    Ken Jack, Webmaster and former VFP-62 PH2



  • The Forgotten Missiles of the Cuban Missile Crisis



    [Capt. Jerry Coffee from "Blue Moon Over Cuba"]:

    " I actually spotted the motor pool late---I had to slam the control column to the left and pull hard through the turn to over-fly the target. In the turn, I switched on the cameras to 'ALL' activating my forward, vertical and oblique or panoramic cameras. I barely got the wings level in time, but with all those cameras activated I suppose it wouldn't have mattered that much." Author: Lt. (then) Coffee had photographed the first known presence of tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba. Gen. David M. Shoup, commandant of the Marine Corps, commended Coffee's "alertness in a rapidly changing situation---the most important and most timely information for the amphibious forces, which has ever been acquired in the history of this famous Navy-Marine fighting team."

    Along with 11 other VFP-62 aviators, Lt. Coffee received the Distinguished Flying Cross for their critically important missions over Cuba during October-November 1962. VFP-62 received the Navy Unit Commendation presented by President Kennedy on November 29, 1962.



    The six VFP-62 pilots who flew the first missions over Cuba on October 23, 1962, celebrate their receipt of the Distinguished Flying Cross.




Lt. Coffee and Lt. Cmdr. Art Day being debriefed by Admiral Carson after returning from a mission over Cuba.


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    Updated 3/9/18




 
 


 

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