Friends and loved ones paid their respects Sunday to a Gainesville man whose 28-year flying career involved service during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Funeral services for retired Air Force Col. John Casper Jr. took place at McDonald & Son Funeral Home & Crematory in Cumming. A burial service with full military honors then took place at Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville.
One of Casper’s sons, Gainesville lawyer Mike Casper, said the services represented to him a "celebration of the great career that Dad had."
"He was just a real patriot," he said. "His obituary was just amazing — the career he had."
Casper, who died at 88 at Gold City Convalescent Center in Dahlonega after a brief illness, earned his military pilot wings and officer’s commission at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1942 and went on to serve as a B-25 and B-17 bomber instructor pilot.
In 1945, while assigned to the 388 Bomb Group in England, he was a B-17 aircraft commander and lead pilot for seven combat missions in Europe.
In 1950, he was assigned as personnel officer to Headquarters 5th Air Force in Japan. He then joined the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Taegu Air Base, Korea, and flew 50 combat missions in the RB-26.
In 1954, he joined the 482 Fighter Bomber Group (Reserve) at Dobbins Air Force Base, where he flew F-84 and F-86 jet fighters. Promoted to colonel in 1968, he became commander of the 918th Military Airlift Group (Reserve) at Dobbins.
He was recalled to 16 months active duty in 1968-69, and flew supply missions to Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Casper won numerous awards and citations throughout his career.
While in the Air Force Reserves, he joined Eastman Kodak in 1954 in Chamblee and held various management positions, retiring in 1986 as dealer relations manager.
During that time, he and his family moved to Lake Lanier.
He was an elder and member of Deer Creek Shores Presbyterian Church in Cumming and past president of the Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Club.
Survivors also include two other sons, one daughter, two brothers and a sister.
Casper’s wife of 49 years, Dorothy, preceded him in death in 1991.
One of his sons is John Casper, a retired Air Force colonel and astronaut who logged more than 825 hours in space.
"It’s tough to lose your father," he said after Sunday’s burial service. "He was a loving father. He cared about the family and bragged on his kids."