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Maj James (Jim) Ryan Kolasa (USAF RET.)
September 22, 1983 ~ September 13, 2023 (age 39) 39 Years Old
12 Trees, Flowers, or Condolences have been shared with support of Maj James (Jim)'s family - View on Tribute Wall
Major James (“Jim”) Ryan Kolasa, USAF Ret., died peacefully on September 13, 2023. Jim was 39 and fought a courageous battle with brain cancer. He left this world surrounded by family and love.
He was born on September 22, 1983 in North Miami, Fl to Dale and Gayle Kolasa and grew up in Davie, Fl.
Friends and family remember him as smart, funny and light hearted. Growing up in South Florida into a family with a weekend home in Key Largo, he loved the ocean, snorkeling, fishing, boating, kayaking, and wakeboarding. Annual snow trips allowed him to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. He loved hiking and camping. He loved cars too. So If you are envisioning a garage full of sports equipment and vehicles and boat parts you are right on target. Jim was also exceptional, persistent, and accomplished. He could memorize catalogs. If he wanted to learn about something, he did a deep dive.
Jim wanted to fly airplanes from an early age, so true to form, he began private pilot lessons when he was 15. He graduated from FSU and was a member of ROTC, earning an Air Force Commission in 2006. He later earned a Masters degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University.
He served in the USAF for sixteen years, flying first as a Navigator on the MC-130p Combat Shadow, and later as Pilot on the CV-22 Osprey. He deployed many times around the world, including the Middle East to combat zones, always committed to his career. His true courage was further displayed as he continued his military service throughout his debilitating illness. He returned full time within a month of his first brain surgery. When it became clear that his flying duties could not be resumed, he worked hard in new roles. At home, he kept an incredible positive attitude and a smile, keeping life as normal as possible for his family.
He is survived by his wife Nicole Kolasa, son William Kolasa, parents Dale and Gayle Kolasa, aunts, uncles, and many beloved cousins. No one could ever ask for a better husband, father, son, friend, or colleague.
A celebration of life with military honors with be conducted at Emerald Coast Funeral Home, 161 Racetrack Road, NW, in Fort Walton Beach Florida at 11:00 am on Monday September 18th, 2023. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Flowers will be received by the family or donations may be made to ABTA.org or NBTS.org. Lunch will be served on site following the service. Friends and family are are welcome. Expressions of sympathy and support may be left online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com