Lieutenant Colonel John Grainger, USAF Retired, passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 11, 2020 at his home in Shalimar, Florida at the age of 78.
John was born in Clarendon, NC, the first son of John W. and Rowena Grainger. He worked on the farm enough to know he did not want to pick tobacco for a living. He graduated from North Carolina State University (NCSU) with a degree in Business. He found his first and only love along with his calling at North Carolina State University. His lifelong love was Virginia Vennel, whom he met in a class and married in 1961. His calling started when he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force through the NSCU Reserve Officer Training Course in 1964. He continued to support NCSU his entire life and avidly followed the football team and men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Big John enjoyed a long and impactful career in the US Air Force. He earned his navigator wings at John Connolly Air Force Base (AFB), Waco, TX and enjoyed flying C-130s his whole career. His numerous assignments included stations at Dyess AFB, TX; Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan; Mather AFB, CA; Little Rock AFB, AR; Scott AFB, IL; and Hurlburt Field, FL. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf clusters, Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf cluster. He retired after 28 years of service at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel from HQ Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). After retirement, he started a consulting business and continued working to provide unparalleled technical capability to AFSOC aircraft.
John is preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Virginia Grainger (nee Vennel). He is survived by his three daughters -- Dawn [Richard] Snyder, Deanne Grainger, and Amanda Grainger as well as his four grandchildren -- Ella Snyder, Richard “Eli” Snyder, Ethan Snyder, and Ezekiel Snyder.
A time of visitation will be held Wednesday afternoon, January 15, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm, and a service will follow at 2:00pm, both at Emerald Coast Funeral Home. A military interment will be held at Beal Memorial Cemetery immediately following the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (https://www.stjude.org/give.html).
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105