Longtime Members of the Texas Wing will be missed after Tragic Accident

On Monday, May 16, 2016, Lt. Col. Henry “Jack” L. Jackson, 75, and his wife, Lt. Col. Gwynn A. Groggel, 70, were killed, along with their friends, Charles and Carrie Torti as they were departing the airport at Tupelo, Mississippi on a cross-country trip from Kerrville, Texas to Charlottesville, Virginia.

“They were members of the Kerrville Composite Squadron and were responsible for starting the squadron back in the 1990s,” said Maj. George Otto, squadron commander. “Gwynn and Jack were the first commanders of the Kerrville Squadron.”

Born March 21, 1941, in Immokalee, Florida, Jack spent his life serving his country in the military, company he worked for, community he lived in, the Civil Air Patrol and his family in large and equal measures. In the 1960s, he served his country in Vietnam as an U.S. Air Force specialist. Afterwards, he had a career with IBM as a computer technical expert, trainer, and manager, while at the same time earning bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Houston.

He continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve until his retirement from IBM where he and Gwynn met.  After retiring from IBM, he and Gwynn retired to the Texas Hill Country.  Jack taught computer technology at Austin Community College and later at Schreiner University. He enjoyed flying and being around aviation related activities.  His strong sense of duty led to his active involvement in the Civil Air Patrol, attaining the rank of Lt. Col.

Gwynn was born Aug. 14, 1945, in Bristow, Oklahoma.  She was a graduate of the University of Kansas and spent her entire career working for IBM in various technical and managerial capacities.  She gave back to the community through her participation in the American Association of University Women and the “I Have a Dream”’ Foundation.  One of her passions was the practice of yoga, which led her to earn her instructor certification and later become the co-founder and co-owner of The Yoga Space, a yoga studio, in downtown Kerrville.  She always had a love of the performing arts, ballet and symphony orchestra, both in Dallas and Kerrville, and continued to support the community through her patronage.

While living in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area, Jack served as the Addison Composite Squadron commander. They moved to Kerrville and in Sep. 1999 organized a new senior squadron based at the Tierra Linda Airport.  Jack was the first Kerrville Composite Squadron commander, serving in this capacity for approximately one year.

At that point, Gwynn became commander of the squadron and continued until 2008.  Under Gwynn’s command, the squadron was named by Texas Wing as a Squadron of Merit.  Gwynn was always considered an outstanding and highly knowledgeable organizer and manager as commander of the Kerrville Squadron.

Recruiting members for the new squadron, Jack and Gwynn organized a training event and was able get over 40 CAP members to participate in a Mountain Flight Clinic in April 2000 at the Alpine-Casparis Airport in Alpine, Texas.

In 2004, Gwynn took over as the Incident Commander for the Mountain Flight Clinic.  The MFC continues to this day and has been a highly successful CAP training activity, attended by CAP senior members from across Texas as well as the surrounding states of Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.

While Gwynn became an incident commander serving as such during numerous electronic locator transmitter searches as well as several natural disasters including hurricanes Ike and Rita, Jack went to Texas Wing staff becoming wing director of operations.

In that capacity, Jack reorganized the wing maintenance program with a model similar to the current CAP National contract-based maintenance program.  Jack also planned and oversaw the installation of new CAP VHF radios and audio panels in all Texas Wing aircraft.

He was at the forefront of assessing and implementing new technologies for Texas Wing and CAP National Headquarters.  Jack was also instrumental in developing the strong working relationship that CAP currently has with the State of Texas Emergency Operations Center, which manages and staffs the State Operations Center.

SOC operates 24/7 to coordinate local, state and federal responses to emergencies and natural disasters such as hurricanes and severe flooding.  He served as CAP’s liaison to the SOC during Hurricanes, Edouard, Katrina, Rita, Dolly, Gustav and Ike.  For many years and during various natural disasters, Jack directed Texas Wing CAP emergency operations from the SOC.

Jack was instrumental in getting Texas Wing aircraft equipped and aircrews trained for disaster assessment aerial photography.  Jack was also instrumental in forging an alliance between the state and CAP that produced a coordinated border law enforcement program in 2004-05.

Jack led the Texas Wing border operations through 2014. He was the project leader for Operations Rio Grande, Big Jake, Javelina Thunder I, Javelin Thunder II, Del Rio, El Paso, Laredo, Rio Bravo, and Seventh Flag.  He also was the IC for major fire-watch missions for the State of Texas.  One fire-watch operation flew 13 sorties a day for 90 straight days.

Jack received numerous CAP awards over the years.  He received the Distinguished Service Medal, five Exceptional Service Awards, three Meritorious Service Award, three Commanders Commendation, Texas Wing Counter Drug Officer of the Year in 2008, Senior Member of the Year in 2008, the Southwest Region Counter Drug Officer of the Year in 2012, and most recently the 2015 Texas Wing Senior Member of the Year.

Many of us knew Jack best perhaps as one of our check pilots for CAP Form 5 and 91 check flights.  Jack was an exceptional check pilot; a check ride was a learning opportunity with Jack.  Taking a check ride with Jack was the opportunity to enhance your flying knowledge and skills.  Jack served as assistant standardization and evaluations officer for the Texas Wing.  He was a longtime mission pilot, mission observer and scanner, and CAP check pilot for 29 years.  He also served as Texas Wing vice commander from February 2005-April 2015.

Civil Air Patrol benefited immensely from the talents and longtime efforts of Jack and Gwynn.  As friends and fellow CAP members we were privileged to have known and to have worked with these two wonderful and caring individuals.  We will not forget Jack and Gwynn.  They are truly missed by family and friends, colleagues at work and the Civil Air Patrol community.

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