- About Us
Jerry Wayne Simpson passed away January 25, 2019 at Marcus Daly Hospice Center, Hamilton, MT at the age of 80 years, 9 months, 5 days. Cause of death was complications of metastatic melanoma and its treatment. He was born April 20, 1938 at Mansfield, Arkansas, son of Lester Willard and Virginia Harp Simpson. He attended school at Mansfield, graduating from Mansfield High School in 1956, then attended Arkansas Polytechnic College at Russellville, Arkansas, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1960. Jerry also received his commission through Army ROTC at the same time.
He entered the military service in 1955 when he joined the Arkansas Army National guard as an enlisted man. Jerry entered active duty in March 1961, attended the Signal Corps Officer’s Basic Course then reported for his first duty assignment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. During his tour at Fort Huachua, he became interested in Army Aviation and applied for the Officer Rotary Wing course. He was accepted, and arrived at Fort Wolters, Texas in April 1962 to begin flight school. At that time, the Rotary Wing course was divided between Fort Wolters, Texas and Fort Rucker, Alabama. Jerry graduated from flight school at Fort Rucker in November 1962 and remained at Fort Rucker for the CH-21C Qualification course prior to departing for the Republic of Vietnam.
Jerry arrived in Vietnam in February 1963 and was assigned to the 119th Aviation Company (Airmobile) as a Rotary Wing Aviator and had additional duties as Communications Officer, Mess Officer, and Postal Officer. During his tour, he flew 415 hours of combat time and was awarded eleven Air Medals. Upon finishing his duty assignment in Vietnam in January 1964 and reported to the 11th Air Assault Division (Airmobile) at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 11th Air Assault Division was the test vehicle for the First Cavalry Division prior to its going to Vietnam. He was assigned to the 11th General Support Company where he was the Light Observation Helicopter Platoon Commander. While he was in the division, Jerry obtained his Helicopter Instrument Rating and, also, was checked out as an instructor pilot in the OH-13S.
When the First Cavalry Division left for Vietnam in August 1965, he was transferred to Fort Wolters, Texas, attended the Methods of Instruction course and was designated as a school trained instructor pilot. Jerry was a military instructor pilot at Fort Wolters, the Army's Primary Helicopter School, until his release from active duty in November 1966.
After release from active duty, he was employed by Southern Airways, the civilian contractor at Fort Wolters, Texas, as a helicopter instructor pilot, working for Southern Airways from January 1967 to November 1972. In the meantime, Jerry said he had the good fortune of marrying a Montana girl, Karolyn Quast, on October 28,1967 at the home of his parents at Mansfield, Arkansas. As the Vietnam War was winding down and there was less need for Army helicopter pilots, through Karolyn’s urging, they moved to Missoula, Montana the latter part of November of 1972. Prior to moving, he had heard many good things about the Montana National Guard and joined Troop N (Air), 163rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in February of 1973. Shortly after joining the Montana Army National Guard, he applied for and was accepted for the Instrument Examiners Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama. After completion of the course, he was hired as a technician flight instructor at the Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) in Helena in October 1973.
In the fall of 1974, Jerry and family moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky where he completed the Armor Officer Advanced Course, and later completed the Aviation Safety Officer Course. Jerry served as the Troop Commander Troop N (Air) 1978 - 1980, became the Regimental Aviation officer, 163d Armored Calvary Regiment in Bozeman in 1980. He attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1982, then was transferred to STARC as the STARC Safety Officer and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was promoted to the job of Aviation Support Facility Commander in 1985. Jerry was promoted to the rank of Colonel in July 1987, the rank at which he retired in May 1993. After retirement, he was an airplane flight instructor in Kalispell, then flew an airplane for Butte Aviation for a short time.
Jerry and family moved to Corvallis in the fall of 1997 and had a home constructed by Steve Edens on an acre of land that had been part of the Quast ranch. Jerry laid the paver brick for the driveway, planted the yard and a vegetable garden. He took great pride in the appearance of the yard and his success with growing more vegetables than the family could possibly eat. His relaxation came from shooting skeet and trap, and playing golf as many days as possible each year, weather permitting.
He is survived by his wife, Karolyn, sons Christopher and wife Tracy, Billings, Jeffrey and wife Rachael, Layton, Utah; brother Martin and his wife Eva, Atlanta, Georgia; four grandchildren, Samantha, Jonathan, Abigail Simpson all of Billings, Christopher, Layton, Utah; one niece and one nephew. He was predeceased by an infant son, Andrew, his parents, Lester and Virginia Simpson, and several aunts and uncles.
Services will be held Thursday, January 31, 10 am at Daly Leach Chapel, with a reception at Daly Leach for family and friends, followed by military burial in the Corvallis Cemetery. Pallbearers: Steve Edens, Ray Dameral, Jeff Simpson, Chris Simpson, Jonathan Simpson, and little Chris Simpson. Honorary pallbearers: Bud Jahns, Reggie Wilson, Firp Redman.
Jerry signs out with a line from his favorite movie, Flight of the Intruder, when Virgil Cole calls in an air strike on his position, "Alpha Mic Foxtrot."