In loving memory of James Charles McCracken, Jr.
James Charles McCracken, Jr, age 80, of Placitas NM passed away on January 10, 2024. He was born January 28, 1943, in Omaha Nebraska, and is preceded in death by his father James McCracken Sr, mother Bettye Eubank McCracken, sister Bonnie McCracken, and former wife Margaret Morec. He is survived by his loving wife Patti Nemeth MD, PhD, physician; his beloved brother Russell McCracken, daughter Julie Anne Hubner, and granddaughter Katelin Cabana; by his dear stepchildren Tessa, Rebecca and Ryan; and by his darling step grandchildren, Oswin, Sebastian, and Killian.
James attended Bellevue High School in Nebraska where he was senior student body president, captain of the football and basketball teams, and he excelled in cross country running. He was inducted into Eagle Scouts and the National Honor Society.
He was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy, where he had the distinct privilege of serving as a member of the United States Air Force Honor Guard at President Kennedy’s funeral procession.
After graduating from the Academy in 1965, he was stationed at Craig Air Force Base in Alabama, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Hurlburt Air Force Base in Florida, and Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia. He served in the Viet Nam War for six years, including deployments in Da Nang and Nakhon Phenom (Thailand)1969-70.
Captain McCracken’s bravery in flight combat earned him numerous medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross in Tien Phuoc, and eight other air medals for combat missions, including an Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation for the 311th squadron, and the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary performance and achievements in battle.
In addition to his Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from the Air Force Academy, he earned a Masters of Business Administration at UCLA, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from University of New Orleans, and a Master of Science in Mathematics and Numerical Analysis at the University of New Orleans, and a Master of Science in Biostatistics at Tulane University. He pursued a successful professional career as a Certified Public Accountant and a Computer Information Security Analysist.
He was an active member of Rotary Club International. He was also a passionate scholar of American history and the wars fought to establish and maintain the Republic. He enjoyed building computers as a hobbyist as a leisure activity.
James will be remembered as a man of courage, discipline and decorum instilled by his military background, and for his charming manner, magnificent smile, generosity of spirit, and compassion. Through his strength of character coupled with kindness and humor he forged many lasting loyal friends, including many from the Academy. He was devoted to his adoring wife, his family and close friends, and was generous and patient in giving guidance to his children and grandchildren. He had a beautiful deep emotional bond with Patti, his wife of 20 years, and their years together were rich in love, animated conversation, joy and laughter. James enriched the lives of many, leaving cherished memories that will be forever treasured.
Funeral services to honor James McCracken’s life will be held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.