Ira Lafayette Kimes Jr., (Colonel USAF Ret.) passed away from old age on Friday, November 27, 2020. Ira, or "Iwo" as many knew him was 92 years old and lived a wonderful, adventurous life full of love and laughter. He was cherished by, and larger than life to, his son Charlie, daughter-in-law Michaelle, and 3 grandchildren, Andrew 24, Benjamin 21, and Katherine 19.
To his family, Iwo (aka Grandpa Iwo), was a generous and warm man with a great sense of humor and a zest for life (i.e. golfing at the Wigwam in Litchfield Park where he retired with his beloved wife Barbara, bass fishing in Northern Mexico, elk hunting in Colorado, enjoying good food and/or drink, a game of cards, a loyal dog or mischievous cat, a good movie, or a party with friends.) - Iwo was always "game." Ira is predeceased by his wife Barbara (2012) and sister Jeanne Clement, and survived by another sister, Carolyn Russell, and half bother Patrick Long.
Ira was born on January 19, 1928 in Pensacola, Florida to Ira L. Kimes Sr. (Brigadier General USMC Ret) and Norina Angelina (Brizzolara) Kimes. At the age of 12, on December 7, 1941 Ira was living with his family in Hawaii adjacent to Ewa Field where his father was a Marine Air Corp. Squadron Commander. The proximity to Pearl Harbor resulted in a front row seat to the "day that will live in infamy." As a young man, Ira attended West Point, graduated with the Class of 1950, and then transferred to the Air Force for a 28-year career as a Fighter Pilot (Air to Ground Gunnery Expert), Squadron Commander, and Senior Air Force Officer. Ira had an extensive Military Career and was a true American Hero, with many decorations earned for both heroism in combat and exemplary leadership. Over a 20 year period spanning 4 combat tours (1 in Korea, 3 in Vietnam), Ira amassed an impressive "close air support" flying record; 364 combat missions (630 hours), approximately 5,000 hours of flying time in 18 aircraft (ex. F-4 Phantom-his favorite, F-84 Thunderjet , F-86 Sabre, F-104 Starfighter). Hit by enemy fire 5 times, he never had to bail out and always managed to "make it back in one piece." Ira was recognized many times over his career (too many to list here), but a couple of pertinent examples are: The Bronze Star for meritorious service as Commander of the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Vietnam 1968-69), The Legion of Merit for outstanding service as Commander, Luke Air Force Base 58th Combat Support Group (aka Base Commander 1975-78). But Iwo would be most proud of his service as a combat pilot, calmly executing his job in the face of enemy fire to protect his brothers in arms and prevail in battle. Perhaps Ira's service is best illuminated by what's written on one of his 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses; "Lieutenant Colonel Ira L. Kimes Jr. distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as an F4C Aircraft Commander near Fire Support Base Diamond III, Republic of Vietnam on 15 April 1969. On that date, a friendly base was under an intense hostile attack and was suffering heavy casualties. Despite extremely hazardous weather conditions and low visibility at night and an intense barrage of hostile anti-aircraft fire, Colonel Kimes continued a dangerous attack that caused heavy damage to the hostile forces, saved many friendly lives and much valuable equipment. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty by Colonel Kimes reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force." Private Services with Military Honors will be held for Ira and he will be laid to rest with his beloved wife Barbara at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona on December 14, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona. To his entire family, Ira was truly a gift, we will love and miss him forever. Visit hansenmortuary.com for online condolences.
Arizona Republic 9 Dec. 2020
Barbara Alice Kimes
Thelma Jeanne Kimes Clement
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