Jay Van Cleeff

June 23, 1927December 4, 2018

Lt. Col. Jay Van Cleeff, USAF (Ret) June 23, 1927 - December 4, 2018

Jay was born in Richmond, VA in 1927. He graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1949, and began service as a ground officer in the newly formed US Air Force. He completed pilot training in 1951. Over his 7500 hours of flying time, his career assignments varied: air rescue missions in the amphibious SA-16 based in Keflavik, Iceland, T-33 pilot instructor in Georgia and Texas and exchange officer pilot trainer with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Winnipeg. He transported (T-39) films taken by U2 spy planes, flying reconnaissance over Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis, back to Langley for analysis. He was chief of support operations at Langley in Virginia, and began flying the C-130. He was stationed in Taiwan and Japan 1968 - 1972, with several tours of duty in Vietnam, transporting everything from artillery rounds to body bags to prisoners of war around the country. He was awarded 3 Air Medals and a Commendation for aviation. In 1968, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for safely delivering a Special Forces team to Kham Duc while under intense enemy fire, returning his aircraft to base, and ensuring the subsequent rescue of the team by Pilot Joe Jackson. His final assignment had him on liaison duty in the T-29 out of Myrtle Beach, SC. He retired to Montgomery, AL to be near his family, where he spent many years serving in the Montgomery chapter of the Military Retired Officers Assoc. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Dorothy (Dot), and his children, Jerry and Judy.


Jay Van Cleeff

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Robert Ripple

February 17, 2019

Thanks col jay for being my first pilot in the 37th at langley Va. always looked up to you and you was a fine man and one of the best c130 pilots i have known. I have thought of you often over the years. RIP SIR.