Dave Pinsky

Dave H. Pinsky

1939 - 2020

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Obituary of Dave H. Pinsky

Dave Pinsky was a man who loved flying and who loved being an Air Force fighter pilot. Most everything Dave did reflected that "fighter pilot attitude". Dave was a hard driver who expected excellence from himself and everyone around him. He often told people that his "Dad said hard work will get you everywhere" and Dave was a great example of that. Colonel Dave Pinsky, U.S. Air Force (Retired), was born in Teaneck, NJ, and grew up in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Denver, CO, and Teaneck. He loved flying and airplanes from a very early age when he used to watch them take off and land from Teterboro Airport in NJ. Dave wanted to be an automobile mechanic, but his high school auto mechanics teacher convinced him to go to college. He attended Rutgers University from 1958 to 1961 where he studied business administration and was a Distinguished Graduate from the Air Force ROTC program where he earned his USAF officer's commission and then began to live his dream of flying jet fighters at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, AL. After serving as a pilot instructor in California, he deployed to Vietnam for service as a Forward Air Controller, piloting a Cessna O-1E "Bird Dog." Based at Duc Hoa, his unit supported the 25th ARVN Division and a variety of US Special Forces. During that tour, Dave flew 614 combat missions and was awarded two Silver Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and 26 Air Medals. Returning stateside, he realized his dream and flew the Air Force's newest fighter, the F-106, out of Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA for the next seven years. During his tour at Langley he deployed temporarily to South Korea in response to the USS Pueblo Crisis and was sent to Alaska for air defense alert where he scrambled several times to intercept Soviet aircraft. Following his early promotion to Major, Dave attended Armed Forces Staff College, then served at Fort Lee, VA, in Air Defense Headquarters as the Fighter Standardization and Evaluation Officer for the East Coast. Dave was then assigned to command the F-106 unit at Homestead Air Force Base, FL during the time President Nixon often visited the Key Biscayne White House. Dave was then sent to Naples, Italy with NATO forces in charge of planning for external reinforcements of Southern Europe in the event of war. Returning to the US, he was selected to attend Air War College, graduating as a Distinguished Graduate, then, joined the Air Staff at the Pentagon to serve as Deputy Division Chief for Air Defense, Missiles and Space. After an early promotion to full Colonel, he served as Division Chief for Western Hemisphere Policy and Plans within the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dave was then assigned as Assistant Director of Operations of the Strategic Air Command FB-111 unit at Plattsburgh, NY, before becoming FB-111 Director of Operations at Pease Air Force Base, NH. He was then assigned to Beale Air Force Base, CA, where he served as Vice Wing Commander, then, Wing Commander of the high-altitude 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing that included SR-71 Blackbirds and U-2s, the Air Force's most prestigious wing. While at Beale he was awarded the Legion of Merit. Following his retirement from the USAF in 1987, Dave worked as Deputy Director of Utilities for Santa Rosa, CA, ultimately asked to bring on board the one-of-kind Geysers Recharge Project. Dave retired from this position after eighteen years in 2005. During this period Dave was selected for Leadership Santa Rosa Class VII which he enjoyed immensely. This led to Dave's becoming a Board Member, then President, of the Luther Burbank Rose Parade. He was then asked to become the Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa and the Wings Over Wine Country Air Show, which he happily did for ten years and became well known in the Air Operations field of the air show industry. In 2011 Dave was selected as the recipient of the Sonoma County "Spirit" Award. He was also selected to receive the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots. This award honors individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as "Master Pilots". A command pilot, he has flown over 6,500 hours in the SR-71, U-2, F-106, F-102, FB-111, T-38, T-33, T-37, T-29, KC-135 and O-1 aircraft, including over 1,000 hours of Combat Time. After his retirement from the Air Force, Dave continued to fly regularly in a Cessna 172. Dave was also a proud member of the National Ski Patrol and patrolled first at Sugar Bowl, then at Squaw Valley for over 15 years. Following the October 2017 Santa Rosa firestorm in which Dave and Betty lost their home and all their possessions, Dave focused on rebuilding his and Betty's life in their new home in Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa. Dave was asked to join the California Highway Patrol as a Senior Volunteer which he did and enjoyed tremendously, becoming coordinator for the program. Dave was a hard charger who loved life, loved being a "fighter" pilot, always wanted things done "the right way, one time, the first time". Inside he was soft hearted and would give you the shirt off his back. Dave passed away on October 9, 2020, and is survived by his lovely wife Betty, their daughter Jerilyn, and granddaughters Elliana and Lilyan, their son Bob and grandchildren Nick, Heather and Bobby, Jr., all of whom he loved very much. Dave will be buried with full military honors. Due to COVID-19 a Celebration of Life is postponed.
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