OBITUARY

Raymond Wikstrom

October 23, 1944May 20, 2020

Services:

A funeral mass in honor of Ray will be held on Wednesday, 1 July, 2020 at 11:00 am at Holy Spirit Catholic Church 11665 Fort Caroline Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225. Please RSVP by 23 June, Tuesday, if attending Ray's Mass. RSVP to mvrc@unf.edu. Subject line: RAY WIKSTROM RSVP (all caps). Please include name and number of guests attending.

In lieu of flowers to house or church, please make a donations to the UNF Military Veterans Resource Center, https://give.unf.edu/MVRC, in Ray's name.

For family and friends unable to attend, Mass will be livestreamed via the parish website. Please join us in prayer for Ray at www.holyspiritchurchjax.org. Click on Livestreams. Click on Facebook or Today's Holy Mass. Please check back before 1 July, just in case there are any changes to the access sequence.

No reception after Mass due to Covid safety precautions. For now, we will have to celebrate Ray in our hearts.

Interment will be held after the Funeral Mass at Jacksonville National Cemetery on Wednesday, 1 July, 2020 at 2:00 PM. Limited honors will be held in Ray's memory. This service is limited to family only, per the cemetery regulations, as such attendance is limited.

Obituary:

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.

Thank you all dear family and friends for your sustaining support, prayers and understanding.

Services

  • Funeral Service

    Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Memories

Raymond Wikstrom

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Richatd Pyatt

August 2, 2020

I went to school with Ray and his brother Rob at UNR. They were great guys. We had lots of fun together. RSVP shipmate. Dick Pyatt

JESSIE ANGELES

July 23, 2020

Captain Winkstrom is our CO during the Persian Gulf from the USS OKinawa , the best Skipper i ever have and i am very proud to be his personal cook . Rest In peace Sir We have the watch Sir

Catherine Osman

June 19, 2020

With deepest sympathy for your loss. Although he did not know me, he set a worthy example for those of us who came after him and we knew about him. May you find comfort in your memories.

Stuart Ritter

June 8, 2020

Dear Gerry and Family,

Having been lucky enough to marry into the family, I enjoyed every visit with you and Uncle Ray. I especially appreciated his willingness to share some of his experiences in Vietnam with me. The official recognition he received for his exceptional service made me all the more struck by the humility he displayed. It was an honor to take him to the University of Maryland Vietnam Memorial. It was people like Uncle Ray, and all of you, who motivated us to establish it in 1988.

Lastly, one of my favorite memories of him is a visit to your house when he was talking about one of his commands, and you interrupted him to hand him a coffee pot with the instructions, “Come on XO, serve everyone some coffee!” :-) He will be remembered fondly and missed greatly.

Stuart Ritter and Family

Jimmer Sullivan

May 26, 2020

Gerry,

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

Art Schmitt

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.
Seawolf 16
Uncle Art
Dr. Art

Maureen Kennedy

May 24, 2020

Dear Gerry
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

Bruce Woodyard

May 24, 2020

Dear Gerry,
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,
Bruce Woodyard

Joseph Sutorus

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.

Tom Olby

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.

FROM THE FAMILY