Funeral service for James M. Gilbert Jr., 62, of Jeffersonville, will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at E.M. Coots’ Sons Funeral Home in Jeffersonville, with burial to follow in Walnut Ridge Cemetery. He died Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 at the VA Hospital in Louisville.
Jim was born on June 21, 1950 to James M. Gilbert Sr. and the late Betty L. Gilbert. When his father returned to active duty in the Navy in 1966, Jim Jr. accompanied his parents while his father served an additional 20 years in the U.S. Navy. Jim Jr. attended high school in Jeffersonville, Adak, Ark., and Port Hueneme, CA. Upon graduation from Port Hueneme he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. where he graduated in June, 1972. His initial assignment as an Ensign in the Navy was on the USS Henderson DD 785, which deployed to the South Pacific where Jim Jr. saw action in Vietnam in 1972 and 1973. He was selected to attend Navy flight training as a Radar Intelligent Office (RIO) flying in the Navy’s F-4 Phantom. After deployment aboard the USS America CVA 66, he was selected to attend the Navy’s “TOP GUN” course for RIO’s. Graduating at the top of his class at Top Gun, he was selected to participate in the course for training to become a RIO in the Navy’s F-14 Tomcat aircraft. Completing this training in 1975, he then deployed for a tour operating from the USS Enterprise CVN 65. He completed a deployment in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Jim had 200 “traps” aboard the two carriers in which he was deployed.
Jim left active service in 1979 and remained in the Naval Air Reserve where he once again flew in the F-4 Phantom aircraft operating out of the Dallas area.
Jim Jr. was employed by Battlespace Flight Services, LLC. in Arlington, Va., before moving back to Jeffersonville in May 2012. Because of a deteriorating lung condition resulting from exposure to beryllium fumes in a naval aircraft incident, he was forced to take early retirement from his civilian occupation as Director, Business Development with Battlespace Flight Services in April 2012.
He is survived by his wife, Gail Bruce Gilbert; sons Jason Robert Gilbert and wife, Kristi Baker, of Ft. Thomas, Ky., Jeffrey Alexander and wife, Danielle, of Kettering, OH.; step-daughter, Staci M. Nole-Wilson and husband, Aaron Wilson, of Sellersburg; stepbrother, Jay Lather and wife, Ai Sook, of Guam; stepsister, Cie Taylor and husband, Ron Andrews, of Mesa, Ariz.; stepsister, Connie Conen, of Jeffersonville; grandchildren, Simon Robert Gilbert, Isabella Marie Gilbert, Morgan Kelly and Riley Gail Wilson; father, James M. Gilbert Sr.; stepmother, Frances L. Gilbert; and previous wife, Joelle Gilbert.
Jim Jr. was preceded in death by his mother, Betty L. Gilbert and his brother, John R. Gilbert.
Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. today, Friday, Feb. 1, at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the American Lung Association or Tailhook Education Foundation.