John F. Ramsey, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and longtime American Airlines pilot, died Sept. 13. He was 95.
Ramsey, of Dix Hills, served as a first lieutenant in the Air Force during World War II, when he dropped paratroopers over Germany and Holland, according to his family. He also flew in and out of Germany during the Berlin Airlift as the Cold War heated up after World War II.
He then joined American Airlines as a co-pilot. It was there that he met his wife, Jeanne, a stewardess, 61 years ago. She left the job soon after that to marry him.
Ramsey was a very athletic young man. According to his wife, Ramsey "married his hunting gun first, his tennis racquet second, his motorcycle third" and then he married her.
During World War II, Ramsey survived being shot down over Belgium. Ramsey's younger brother, Dave, who was flying a B-17, was shot down over Germany and became a prisoner there for two years, according to his family.
His older brother, Rob, was shot down by a Japanese Kamikazi fighter "but saved by a submarine after several days of swimming in shark-infested waters," said Ramsey's daughter, Lynda Schram, of Seattle.
During the war, Ramsey would often write to friends and family to express what he wanted people to know about his adventures.
"Flying has meant more than a means of livelihood," he once wrote to his family. "The companionship of men and boys with similar interests, the intoxication of speed, the rush of air, and the pulsating beat of the motor awakes some answering chord deep down, which is indescribable."
After working with American Airlines for 32 years, Ramsey retired when he was 60, but he continued flying for a Pakistani airline and oil companies for three years, his daughter said. He retired from the Air Force Reserves in 1977.
Ramsey was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1917. His father died when Ramsey was 7, and his mother raised him and his two brothers on a farm during the Great Depression.
"Dad rode a mule to school every day," Schram said. Sometimes he would sneak into the movie theater through the back door, she said.
Besides his wife and daughter, Ramsey is survived by his six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held at Claude R. Boyd-Spencer Funeral Home in Babylon Village on Sept. 20. Donations in his name can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.