|Restored OBA/VMAP O-2A Ducks|
By OBA Staff
We are sad to report the passing of LtCol Jerry Noel Stephan, Nail 57, on Friday Nov. 20, 2009, after a battle with multiple cancers. He was 67 years old. In the early days of the VMAP, Jerry joined up and took upon himself the task of restoring our O-2A to display condition, quickly throwing himself into the project with a fervor and dedication that surprised many. That first O-2 had actually crashed and been removed from service, and it took a huge amount of work to get it into the fine display condition that it’s in now. Later, he worked on our other Duck, among other things.
More important than his hard work towards building the museum, Jerry was just plain a good guy and a good friend to a great many people. Jerry was an Air Force fighter pilot and FAC during Vietnam, and had the unique distinction of getting attacked by an An-2 biplane while flying a mission in an O-2! (Obviously he did manage to escape, but it took a while to convince anyone what had happened.) During the last several years, Jerry was really enjoying re-connecting with old friends as well as making many new ones. Despite his illness, he continued to stay as involved as he could in the museum and in the organization, right up until just a few short weeks before he passed away. In the end, Jerry had the blessings of family and friends surrounding him through a difficult battle, and we know that we have been made better people for having been able to know him.
Jerry is survived by his children, Vincent, Scott and Shauna Stephan; his mother Dorothy; his brother Ronald; beloved grandchildren Mackenzie, Harrison and Julia Stephan; and a multitude of extended family members and friends.
Fellow FAC Ned “Crash” Helm posted the following on FACNet about Jerry, which bears repeating:
To those of you who never met Jerry here are some pix and his story from Cleared Hot I. Jerry is not a statistic… he is a Bud… who had good times and bad…He arrived in Viet Nam as an F-4 back seater and then was whisked away to be a FAC and ended up as Nail 57 at NKP. Besides being a Nail on the trail his claim to fame was getting bounced by an AN-2 Colt. That story is attached. His score card includes a Silver Star and numerous DFCs and air medals…. but they really are not the measure of a man. What struck me most was his absolute dedication to preserving the past (he has been accused of living there!!). To that end he is a fervent supporter of the FACM/OBA and almost single handedly restored a magnificent O-2 (if one can use O-2 and magnificent in the same sentence LOL) which graces the FACM.
Again, as Ned said: “Snappy salute to a FAC, Fighter Pilot, and restorer of our history.”