Hardage - Giddens Chapel Hills Funeral Home and Cemetery
850 St Johns Bluff Road North, Jacksonville, FL
October 23, 1944 – May 20, 2020
Captain Raymond M Wikstrom, USN (Ret) was born on October 23, 1944 to Colonel Floyd and Cecelia Wikstrom, USAF in Reno, Nevada. Ray, and his twin brother Rob, graduated from the University of Nevada (Reno). Ray then pursued his lifelong passion of flying by joining the United States Navy in April 1969. He took tremendous pride, purpose, and dedication in honoring the traditions of the Navy, completing the mission, and bringing the men and women under his command home safely. The friendships and good times made in the Navy, uniquely within the aviation community, were a source of fond memories and great joy until the end. He is survived by Gerry, his wife of 46 years; two children, Meredith of Atlanta, Georgia, and Erik (April) of Cary, North Carolina; and two grandchildren, Connor and Emma. Ray will be deeply missed by his uncle, Hank Cantlion, of San Ramon, CA; the Cantlion and Wikstrom cousins, along with Jim and Theresa Cich, Nicholas and Dominic Cich and all the Horan clan.
As a young LT.JG, Ray’s first assignment was with the “Seawolves” in the Republic of Vietnam where he flew the UH-1B (HUEY) gunships on over 650 missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Single Action and 25 Strike/Flight Air Medals. Upon returning to the United States, Ray (a.k.a. Wik / Wiki) was assigned to the anti-submarine squadron HS-11 “Dragonslayers” where they deployed on the USS Intrepid completing Mediterranean and North Atlantic cruises. Ray was next assigned to the anti-submarine training squadron HS-1 ”Seahorses” in Jacksonville, FL after which he transitioned to the HSL community and the HSL-36 “Lamplighters”
After an OP-508 tour, Ray proudly served as the Executive and then Commanding Officer of HSL-36 before completing his assignment as the Executive Officer of the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Tripoli (LPH-10). Ray then served as the Commanding Officer of the HSL-40 “Airwolves” before commanding Helicopter Sea Control Wing THREE which was responsible for the readiness and training of all Atlantic Fleet LAMPS MK III squadrons. While commanding HSL-40, Ray was the 1989 Atlantic Fleet winner of the VADM James Bond Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award and was awarded the Navy Merit Medal First Class by the Spanish government for assisting the Spanish Navy’s transition to the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter.
In January 1991, Ray assumed command of the Amphibious Assault Ship Okinawa (LPH-3) on the eve of Desert Storm and led the crew on a historic ten-month deployment. Later, he commanded the Amphibious Assault Ship Tarawa (LHA-1), the “Eagle of the Sea”. During his career, Ray was awarded three Legions of Merit and four Meritorious Services Medals.
Ray retired from the Navy in 1998 from PERS-44 after 30 rewarding years of service. Ray continued to support the military veterans community by serving as Acting Director of the Academic Credit for Military Special Programs at Florida State College at Jacksonville and later as the Director of the Military and Veterans’ Resource Center at the University of North Florida. Both positions gave Ray the opportunity to continue to help the men and women serving our country by providing resources and pathways for veterans to complete academic programs and college degrees upon their discharge from the military.
We wish you Fair Winds and Following Seas, Skipper.
Per family wishes, services honoring Ray will be held at a later date pending the June update regarding COVID-19 from the Secretary of the Navy. SE Regional Funeral Honors is hopeful that restrictions will be lifted and full honors at graveside will be available soon. Final plans will be posted on this website as soon as possible.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
May 26, 2020
Brigid and I just learned of Ray's passing and while we were very saddened, we were also overcome with some great happy memories of our time with him at HSL-40. His confident, positive attitude and kindness gave me an example to emulate in leadership positions. I will always remember him with a smile on his face.
With sincere sympathy,
Jimmer and Brigid Sullivan
May 24, 2020
Having been the Officer in Charge of Detachment One,
Sea float/Solid Anchor 1970 I had the distinct honor to have served with Ray. This was his first command that Ray served so admirably after he received his wings. He was always upbeat and a pleasure to work with. He worked very hard to be the best Gunship pilot that the detachment had. His fellow brothers knew from the beginning that he would be an incredible asset to the Navy team. God bless his family and know that he was one of the best.
May 24, 2020
Was so saddened to hear of Ray's passing. Definitely one of the Navy's finest and a true gentleman and inspiring leader. As an ensign back in HSL-36 in 84-86, was blessed to have him as our commanding officer. When I look back over all the years in the service between then and now, that tour of duty always stands out as about the best of the best. He will be missed by so many. It was my honor and pleasure to serve with you both. May God grant you comfort and peace during these difficult time. With deep gratitude for all you both have done to serve our fine Navy and country. God bless you and keep you safe, Maureen Kennedy
May 24, 2020
Please accept my sincere condolences on Ray’s passing. The US Navy and the LAMPS community have lost one of our finest. He was XO when I arrived in HSL-36 as a young Ensign, and I was privileged to serve under him. He was a role model to me and to many, and provided an example of leadership and professionalism that I tried to emulate throughout my career. I particularly recall flying as his co-pilot on a squadron detachment to AUTEC, and him giving me tips on formation flying. His calm demeanor and good humor were always evident, no matter the situation, and he was never too busy to talk to the Sailors and junior officers. We both happened to be serving in Washington when I made O-5, and though I had not seen him in years, he kindly agreed to pin on my silver oak leaves then, just as he had pinned on my LTJG bars in 36. His reputation among all those who served with him was unmatched, and it was an honor to know him.
I pray that his legacy of heroism, leadership, and service will be a comfort to you at this difficult time.
With deepest sympathy,
May 23, 2020
I saw Captain Wikstrom at a combined ceremony for HSL-36 and HSL-44 (I think) any way. He was one of the officers on stage. After everything was over I went up to him and congratulated him for making Captain. He told me he had been one for a year. I said it had been that long since we saw each other. He introduced me to then Captain Delaney. Two of my pilots, LT's, saw me standing with two Captains and had to come over to see what the heck I could be saying to them. See I was just a Second Class Petty Officer with a little bit of a reputation. I introduced the Pilots to the Captains then the two Captains turned and continued talking with me. I told my two LTs later be nice to me I have friends in high places. That is what Ray Wikstrom was to me a dear friend. I will miss him.
May 23, 2020
Gerry & Family,
Sorry to here of Ray's passing. He was a Seawolf pilot on Det 1 and I was one of his gunners. He was a exceptional pilot and fearless. His skills & professionalism brought us back home. He was a exceptional aviator and human being. He will not be forgotten.
Rest In Peace Shipmate God Bless.
May 23, 2020
Served with Ray in HC-4/HSL-30, my first squadron tour, Ray was just back from Vietnam. Ray was the consummate Pilot, Officer, and Gentleman. I am pleased to have known him and served with him!
My thoughts and prayers are with you family!!
May 23, 2020
Gerry, Erik and Meredith,
I just wanted share what a significant role model Uncle Ray was to me, especially when I was young man and junior officer. I will always remember him reading the entire paper each day at the beach when we were kids, and standing on the deck of the USS Tarawa. My choice to serve in the Navy and my continued connection to the Navy were largely inspired by him. He will always remain as my quintessential image of a Naval Officer. I appreciate the times when you opened your home to me, and the advice and love I received.
We will miss him dearly. Hope to see you all soon. All my love!
May 23, 2020
Gerry, I met Ray in Vietnam, Ray's first duty station as a young LTJG fresh out of flight school. When I joined Ray on the Seawolves Det 1 detachment, Ray was a Fire Team Leader, and a good one. When we entered a Fire Fight, Ray was a good man to have in the lead, his decisions and battle tactics were always role model for those learning the "Trade" . I'd like to think that as a young second class on my last assignment, that we, the enlisted, had something to do with training Ray how to take care of his men first , and they would always take care of him. Fair Seas Sailor, rest easy now, your watch is done .
May 23, 2020
Dear Gerry and family ... I was never fortunate enough to serve in the same squadron as Ray but I always wanted to. I was a junior officer when Ray was in senior leadership positions in our Navy HSL/H-2 community and his sterling reputation and sincere example as an Officer and gentleman, Naval Aviator and leader touched so many of us in so many positive ways. He and so many of his shipmates from his generation served and lead with grace and honor. They inspired many of us who followed them and set an extraordinary standard of professionalism and leadership that we strove to emulate. My most sincere and heartfelt condolences to all your family and please know that Ray's wonderful legacy is stronger than ever and still encouraging so many of us who were blessed to know him.
May 22, 2020
When I learned of Ray’s passing this week I was terribly saddened. I know Ray has been very ill and his quality of life was greatly compromised. No one knows more than you and your family. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. We have lost a giant of a person, a man I had deep respect for. You and Ray made our tour in HSL-36 a positive experience and I thank you. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. May God be with you and your family. God bless you. Very respectfully, Frito
May 22, 2020
Gerry - I was so saddened to hear about the loss of Ray this week! My heart hurts for you, the children, the grandchildren and for the many friends and family who loved him! I have such fond memories of our time at HSL 36 during the early 1980’s with both of you and also to have the honor of both remembering Eric’s birth and later, when he had reached adulthood, planning his wedding reception at Sawgrass Country Club. The world has truly lost an outstanding man who was the epitome of strength and graciousness! My deep thoughts and prayers are with you all! Much love, Angie
Jim and Stephanie McGrath
May 22, 2020
Gerry and Family,
Stephanie and I were very sad to hear that Ray had passed away this week. Ray was an inspirational man and great role model with a phenomenal history of courage and leadership. My memories of Ray as my first Commanding Officer (Skipper) in the Navy have left a good, and long lasting impression of what a great man and leader he was. He will always be fondly remembered by both of us. God bless you Gerry and your family in this difficult time. You have all helped to make him the great man that he was. Our most sincere sympathies.
Jim and Stevie