NOTAM 07-2015 (CAPT O’Neil)

Golden Eagle NOTAM
NOTAM 07-2015 (CAPT O'Neil)
Golden Eagle

Dear Golden Eagles,

It is my sad duty to inform you that Emeritus Member CAPT Timothy Robert O’Neil, USN (Ret), made his Last Take-Off on 13 May 2015 in San Diego, CA.  He was 94 years old.  He was born in Boston, MA, to Timothy and Mary O’Neil. Tim (or Bob, as he was known by family), grew up in Providence, RI.  He graduated from Moses Brown Prep in Providence in 1940, and in 1942 he joined the Navy and was designated a Naval Aviator on October 19, 1943.  His first assignments were as Flight Instructor in SNJ’s in Pensacola; then as Instrument Flight School Instructor at NAS Atlanta until August 1946.  He then attended Dartmouth College Degree Program for a BA degree in 1951 and married his wife Rita.  He served as a Naval Air Reserve Flight Instructor at NAS Memphis in SNJ’s then to VC-3 at NAS Moffet and USS Oriskany in F4U-5N and F2H-3.  During this tour, Tim was a mentor to both Neil Armstrong and Bill Knutson when they both joined VC-3.

In June of 1956, Tim was selected for integration into the regular Navy. He accepted reduction in rank from LCDR USNR to LT USN and loss of seniority from year group 43 to year group 47.  Duke Windsor arranged for orders to Test Pilot School to fill a PAX River requirement for a test pilot with extensive night and all-weather carrier fighter experience.  He graduated in class # 18 at US Naval Test Pilot School and then served as a project pilot in Service Test flying F3H-2N, F8U-1, F4D, and F9F-6 aircraft from 2/57 to 6/58. He attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI, from 7/58 until 6/59, and then on to VF-31 as Operations Officer then XO/CO at NAS Cecil Field and USS Saratoga flying F3H-2N aircraft from 8/61 to 7/62.   His squadron won the Battle “E” Award and the CNO Aviation Safety Award in 1962.  Tim successfully dead-sticked a F3H-2N Demon into NAS Cecil when the engine quit, saving the airplane.  He attended USAF Air University in Montgomery, Al.   From 7/63 until 4/66 he was  XO then CO  of VF-121, the F-4 RAG in Miramar, CA.  Tim then served as Operations Officer then XO of USS Kitty Hawk in Vietnam where he flew 10 combat missions in the A-6 aircraft until 9/67.  His last duty assignment was in the CNO Office of Program Appraisal and he retired from active duty in 1970 while assigned to OSD Directorate of Inspection Services.

Tim was one of the first Naval Aviators to accumulate nearly 250 night carrier landings using both LSO’s with paddles and later the Mirror Landing System.  He often said, “I can’t believe the Navy is paying me for this job”!  He retired and became a commercial realtor in San Diego County.

Tim is survived by his wife of 69 years, Rita O’Neil of La Jolla; his daughter Sue Gawick (Fred) of Santa Cruz and Jan O’Neil of San Diego; his sons Paul O’Neil of La Jolla and Dick O’Neil (Audrey) of Costa Mesa; his brother Jerry O’Neil (Phyllis) of Cranston, RI.  He had 7 grandchildren and 2 great granddaughters as well as numerous nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will be held at Pacific Beach Chapel at 11:30 on Friday, May 29, 2015 with a reception following the service. In lieu of flowers, donations to Navy Marine Corps Relief Society would be appreciated.

In Sadness,
Don Boecker-Pilot