GRAMKE JAMES D

CW4 James "Jim" D. Gramke, CW4 was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 06/28/2022 at the age of 73.9
Grant Valkaria, FL
Flight Classes 68-27 and 68-516
Date of Birth 07/25/1948
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with B/1 AVN 1 INF in 69-70, B/2/20 ARA 1 CAV in 70-71
Call signs in Vietnam REBEL 71, BLUE MAX
This information was provided by Joseph Hines

More detail on this person: James "Jim" Gramke July 25, 1948 - June 28, 2022 James Dennis Gramke was born July 25, 1948, to Melvin and Marjorie Gramke. He passed away on June 28th, 2022, at the age of 73 in Melbourne, Florida. Jim grew up in Tekamah, Nebraska where he learned to fly for his family's farm and crop-dusting business. He could fix anything electrical, mechanical or related to plumbing. He could build anything out of wood, metal or plastic. A disciplined hard worker, he never complained and had the biggest heart. Jim was a softie, despite (as in his son's Madhav's words) "his outrageously rugged disposition_" He graduated from Tekamah High School in 1967 then enlisted in the army, where he served two tours in the Vietnam War, earning his wings as a pilot during that time. Jim's parents were honored to attend that ceremony and his family was deeply proud of him in every way. Serving with tremendous courage for his country in Vietnam, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Aviator Master Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Service Star, National Defense Service Medal, Expert Badge Rifle, Expert Badge Pistol, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device, Air Medal with Numeral "52", Army Good Conduct Medal. Highly decorated as he was, Jim was beyond humble in every way. Returning home after the war he attended the University of Nebraska graduating with a degree in Entomology (bugs) and assisted the family in the crop-dusting business. Flying was his true passion and as the years went by, he flew a multitude of aircraft including helicopters, planes, and jets doing so with an intuition and intelligence that was also as Madhav says, "totally next level". Jim flew for Enron, Jet Aviation, NASA, and air ambulance for Air Methods to name just a few. His passion for flying never waned. Jim married the love of his life, Claudia De Flon Kuhn, on January 23, 1982. For 40 years they loved the life they had built together as he continued to fly the skies. His family all like to talk about his cooking skills which were famous among anyone who tried his creations particularly his lasagna (which took a full 2 days to prepare), paella (which some say was the best they had ever had) and steaks. Another one of his favorite pastimes was taking family and friends up in his personal plane, showing off the beautiful scenery of Florida in his RV4. Jim's family and friends looked up to him greatly, appreciating all that he brought to their lives. The legacy he leaves behind is vast such as his generosity and kindness. His devotion and love for Claudia's mother, Dolores Kuhn Vargas, meant the world to her and her family. For years Jim participated in fundraising activities for MS. He was over the top in helping the purple Martin population flourish. He was awarded an Honorary Life Membership from the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers. Jim is survived by his beloved wife, Claudia; daughter, Maria McCarthy; sons Adam Gramke and Madhav Gramke; and seven grandchildren. Also surviving are brothers Dan, John, Tom, Leo, Denny, Joe; and sisters Mary, Nancy, Jane, Theresa, and Ginger as well as many nieces and nephews. Sent in by: Jospeh Hines: Gramke, James D.,CW4, Class 68-27/68-515 RVN 69-70,70-71 ; B 1st AVN/ 1st Inf; 8/2/20 ARA, !st Cav. DFC w/ two oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star w/ 2 oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, 52 Air Medals, Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry. Call sign Rebel 71 and Blue Max. Jim passed away suddenly after apparently successful surgery for a brain tumor on 28 June 2022. Jim took his entire aviation career from "cradel to grave", starting in High School with a crop-dusting job for his father's AG spraying business in his hometown of Tekamah, Nebraska, about 40 miles north of Omaha. He joined the Army to attend flight school and subsequently transitioned to Cobras before his first tour in Viet Nam. After the Army, Jim joined the Texas and then the Nebraska National Guard to maintain his currency and military qualifications. He was always involved with aviation and over the next nearly fifty years, flew for various helicopter companies such as Air Methods as an air ambulance pilot and various corporate jet positions, including Enron, where he was a chief pilot. One of his favorite jobs for most of the last ten was flying a security/SWAT team at Cape Kennedy for NASA in a UH-1 providing overwatch for launches and perimeter security. Even after retirement, Jim enjoyed giving acrobatic "thrill" rides in an old Stearman to visiting tourists. He also gave friends rides in his personal RV-4 homebuilt airplane. Jim is survived by his loving wife, Claudia, of 40 years, and his children, John, Adam and Maria. He will be sorely missed by all as a tremendous friend, and remembered as a man that could fix anything, cook anything and NEVER said "No".

This information was last updated 09/23/2022

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Date posted on this site: 10/29/2022


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