James Joseph McDermott (Jim), passed away on November 12, 2017 in Madigan Hospital Tacoma, Washington, with his Granddaughter (Leahanna) by his side.
Jim (the eldest of three children) was born May 28, 1918 in Santa Barbara, California, to Francis and Elizabeth McDermott.
After his grade school was destroyed by the 1925 earthquake, he attended school in the Lady of Sorrows Parish. In 1937 he graduated from Santa Barbara High School where he participated in many athletic activities such as football, basketball and baseball. For seven years he played cricket for the Santa Barbara Cricket Club and played soccer against private schools sponsored by the League of Nations organization.
In June 1941 he joined the Army Air Corp where he trained at McChord Field in Washington and was assigned to the 12th Bombardment Group. They were the only Air Corps Unit on the Pacific coast north of San Francisco Bay after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Assignments would take him to Esler Field in Alexandria, Louisiana, Aviation Cadet School in San Antonio, Texas, Flight training at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Arkansas City, Kansas, Chanute Field, Illinois. From there he went to Harlingen, Texas to Gunnery School and then on to Changtu, China by way of India and Burma. He was on this assignment until late 1945 when the war ended at which time he returned to the States and was discharged from Ft. MacArthur in January of 1946.
In 1948 he re-enlisted in the newly created U.S. Air Force at Hamilton Field in San Raphael, California, three months later he was shipped out to the Panama Canal. It was here he met and married Martha P. (Connie) Boutz.
In 1951 he was assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Rome, Italy working with the Italian Air Force. In 1954 he was assigned to Randolph AFB, Texas where he was an instructor at the NCO academy.
Connie passed away with cancer and in 1958 he married Anne Elizabeth Bibb. More assignments to various Air Force sites stateside and around the world would take him to Amarillo, Texas, Klamath Falls, Oregon, Bitburg Air Base Germany, Greece and Turkey.
He returned to McChord Air Force Base, Tacoma Washington in 1968 where he retired as a Master Sergeant in October of 1969.
After military retirement he worked for the U.S. Post Office for six months and then was hired by Washington State as a License Examiner in Renton and Auburn, WA. He moved to Anderson Island in 1975 and retired from the State in 1979. Wife Anne passed away with cancer in January, 1982. He married Helen Switzer of Greenwood, Indiana on November 28, 1989.
In July 2005, he moved to his last residence Patriots Landing in DuPont, Washington.
In August of 2013 he proudly participated in Honor Flight. He was flown to Washington D.C. on a chartered flight of military Veterans to visit the War Memorials in and around our Nation’s Capital. To quote one of his friends, “Jim was a great American, he proudly served his God, his family and his country.”
Jim is survived by daughter Anne Reid and husband Leighton, Panama City, FL; Granddaughters Leahanna Reid, Springfield, OR; Rachel Howard and husband Jeff, Minot AFB, ND; grandson Sean Reid and wife Abby, Green Cove Springs, FL; three Great Grandchildren Payton, Carter and Tyler. He is also survived by his sister Jean Ferguson of Santa Barbara, CA; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceded in death by his wives Martha P Boutz; Anne Elizabeth Bibb; Helen Switzer; parents Francis and Elizabeth McDermott; brother Francis (Mac) McDermott; nieces Stephanie Ferguson and Patricia Smyer
Jim’s ashes will be inurned in a private service at the Anderson Island Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to Honorflight.org. Please leave online condolences at www.gaffneycares.com. Arrangements by Gaffney Funeral Home, 253-572-6003.