Retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Robert “Jerry” McCluskey died Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, at his home in Leavenworth at the age of 84.

Retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Robert “Jerry” McCluskey died Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, at his home in Leavenworth at the age of 84.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Mary Eleanor (Adams), whom he met while stationed in South Carolina at Charleston Air Force Base; daughter, Kelly (Retired Colonel Stuart, United States Army) Bradin, Tampa, Florida; son, Kevin (Missy) McCluskey, Overland Park; and four granddaughters, Bailey Bradin, Blair Bradin, and Bethany Bradin, Tampa; and Madeline McCluskey, Overland Park.  
He is also survived by two siblings, a sister, Patricia (Robert) Ruckman, Farmer City, Illinois, and a brother, Keith (Judy) McCluskey, El Dorado, Kansas, and nieces and nephews.  
He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry Edgar McCluskey and Alta Rosalind Chase McCluskey, and three siblings, Dale, Dennis, and Barbara.
Lieutenant Colonel McCluskey enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 1952. After fulfilling his commitment, he re-enlisted as an Airman Basic in the Air Force on active duty to pursue his dream of flying, advanced through Officer Candidate School in 1957, and completed Navigator Basic Training in 1959.  
Captain McCluskey flew 288 “Wild Weasel” combat missions in the F-4 Phantom jet in Vietnam. He was a three-time recipient of The Distinguished Flying Cross. Award citations described the scenarios as completing assigned military objectives subject to continuous hostile antiaircraft artillery, missiles, and MIG threats through the most heavily defended area yet encountered in aerial combat and flying between canyon walls at 100 feet and near supersonic speeds without regard for his personal safety.
After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Major McCluskey left the cockpit and returned to his home state as a student at Fort Leavenworth’s U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. After completing the course, he joined the Command General Staff College staff as an instructor in the Air Force section, where he completed the final three years of his military career.    
Four years at Fort Leavenworth represented a welcomed change for Lieutenant Colonel McCluskey’s family, now able to enjoy his presence in unprecedented doses. Jerry loved being around kids, who found him engaging and surprisingly laid-back. He coached basketball, T-ball, baseball, and ‘bat girl,’ and vocally supported his children at dances, soccer matches, and many other events. He chose to retire from the Air Force in his home state for family and community.  Jerry was a fan of auto racing and Kansas City sports teams, but those passions paled in comparison to his fanaticism for the beloved Kansas State Wildcats, clearly underscored by his purple-themed wardrobe.  
No stranger to mischief as a younger man, two stories drew the biggest grins and chuckles from Jerry. One occurred in Orlando when the 2nd Lieutenant chased an alligator across the lawn and down into a dark drainage pipe, somehow emerging with all of his extremities – and the five-foot reptile, which he stored in his bathtub while awaiting its relocation. The second occurred while 1st Lieutenant McCluskey was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base and dating his future bride, when he brought his F-4 in low screaming across the Edisto River to buzz her family’s home and sending those present running for 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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Lieutenant Colonel McCluskey wore the U.S. Air Force blues with tremendous pride. He deeply loved his country.  
At Jerry’s request, there will be no services. A celebration of life will be planned at a future date.  His instructions are to be cremated. The plan is for his oldest nephew, a fellow pilot, to spread Jerry’s ashes from his plane high in the Wild Blue Yonder over the family homestead and his ancestral stomping grounds in Geary County.
May we suggest remembrances be considered for the American Cancer Society and the Wounded Warrior Project. Jerry attributed beating cancer and living an extended life to the timely development of new treatments.