Lt. Col. John L Cronkhite, Sr., USAF (Ret)

    November 20, 1919  -  February 1, 2012

Life Legacy

Lieutenant Col. John Lyle Cronkhite Sr., USAF (Ret), age 92 of San Antonio, died Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Lt. Col. John Lyle Cronkhite Sr., born November 20, 1919 in Battlecreek, Michigan moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where he grew up. He was the son of John Fisher and Kate L. Sackrider Cronkhite. He was married to Adelina Gibson Elmore of Dallas, Texas on March 15, 1946.

John L. Cronkhite joined the Army Air Corps on July 12, 1941. He served for 26 years until he retired August 7, 1967. He was a pilot and flew 29 different types of aircraft including the B17 Flying Fortress. He then worked for the 1968 Hemisfair and Texas State Health Department of San Antonio. Lt. Col. Cronkhite served in the USAF in World War II and the Korean War.

He was a member of the Order of Daedalians, 32nd degree Mason and Past Master councilor of the order of De Molay. Lt. Col. Cronkhite was the Aide-de-Camp to Major General Clements McMullen. He was an instructor pilot, instrument check pilot, logistics officer and Air Force Pilot in England, North Africa, Panama, Korea, Japan, France and Trinidad. Col Cronkhite flew Air Marshall Tedder from North Africa to London to be knighted and back to Mason Blanche Airfield Algiers Algeria. He was a member of the 97th Bomber Group. Lt. Col. Cronkhite was the pilot of the B17 Flying Fortress, the “Thunderbird”.

A chapter of Ernie Pyle’s book Here is Your War is devoted to the heroic actions of Col. Cronkhite and his crew in North Africa in WWII. The chapter was titled “In The Air” and was one of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s favorite war stories. This story was the inspiration for the song “Coming In On A Wing And A Prayer” according to its composer. The stories in this book were the inspiration for the movie “G.I. Joe” starring Burgess Merideth. In his writings, John Cronkhite wrote “Ernie Pyle flew with me on a bombing raid in North Africa”.

Lt. Col. Cronkhite received many decorations. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air medal with one Silver Oak Leaf Cluster and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation, the American Defense service Medal, the American Campaign medal, the Euro-African Middle Eastern Campaign with four service stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one service star, the Korea Service Medal with two service stars, the Air Force Longevity Award with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the UN Service Medal, and the Republic of Korea – Korean War Service Medal.

John L. Cronkhite Sr was preceded in death by his parents, John Fisher Cronkhite and Kate Ludlow Sackrider Cronkhite; his sisters, Isabel Overhuel and Valerie Sears; and a brother, Arden W. Cronkhite.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Adelina Gibson Elmore Cronkhite of San Antonio; His five children, Elizabeth Anne Laudieri of Dayton, Ohio, John L. “Jack” Cronkhite, Jr. of Pharr, Texas, Thomas A. Cronkhite of Oaxaca, Mexico, Jerry E.A. Cronkhite of Seattle, Washington and Katherine E. Freeman of Elizabethton, Tennessee. Lt. Col. Cronkhite has 8 grandchildren, Christopher Laudieri, Katie Laudieri, Kara Kost, Ryan Cronkhite, Jason Cronkhite, Bryan Cronkhite, Dr. Natalie Freeman-Anderson and Lee Freeman. His 9 great grandchildren are Mario Laudieri, Amber Kost, Kirsten Kost, Kendall Cronkhite, Connor Cronkhite, Madelynn Cronkhite, Myriam Cronkhite, Luke Anderson, and John Anderson.

Visitation will be on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Porter Loring on McCullough.

FEBRUARY 8, 2012
10:00 A.M.

Major Philip A. Kost officiating.

Born: November 20, 1919

Place of Birth: Battle Creek, MI

Death: February 1, 2012

Place of Death: San Antonio, TX

This memorial provided by:
McCullough Location
San Antonio, TX