Cover photo for John "Jack" F. Orr's Obituary
John "Jack" F. Orr Profile Photo
1920 Sr. Master Sergeant John "Jack" F. Orr 2022

John "Jack" F. Orr

November 24, 1920 — November 29, 2022

Colorado Springs, CO


Keeling & Goodman Funeral Home in Paducah is honored to serve the family of Senior Master Sergeant (retired) USAF, Great- Great Grandpa John “Jack” F. Orr  Jack passed Nov 29. Jack was born 24 November, 1920 in Paducah, KY. He turned 102 years old on Thanksgiving Day 2022. Jack had a storied life, a member of the Kentucky state champion football team in 1938. After graduating from Augusta Tilghman High School, Jack enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on 27 June 1940 at Fort Knox, KY. He married the love-of-his-life and high school sweetheart, Betty L. Travarthen 6 April, 1941. Jack initially was assigned as an Aircraft Crash Rescue Crew Member at Eglin Field, FL. He then found his passion, and he excelled as an Aircraft Mechanic.

Jack and Betty welcomed Judith Orr in February 1942. Jack quickly moved up the ranks, and was put in positions of great responsibility serving as Line Chief of his B-17 and B-24 aircraft squadrons in Buckingham AFB, FL in 1942. In 1944 Jack headed to San Francisco to board a troop transport that traveled across the Pacific. Jack was with the Fifth Air Force, and their mission was the invasion of Japan. Jack island hopped with his band of brothers from such notable Pacific islands as Leyte, Luzon, le Shima, and finally Okinawa. He worked at emergency air strips that would recover battle damaged aircraft that were unable to make it back to their bases. Jack expertise helped the war effort in returning damaged fighters and bombers back to service. He was a qualified mechanic on an astounding number of aircraft (28), including A-20, AT-6, AT-11, B-10, B-17, B-18, B-23, B-24, B-25, B-26, B-29, B-34, C-45, C-46, C-47, C-54, C-118, C-124, C-131, F-80, L-5, PB-2A, P-36, P-38, P-51, OA-9, O-47, and the T-33. After VJ-Day, the 85th Airdrome Squadrons mission was to airlift American POWs from Japan back to the United States. The family was reunited after WWII, and they were assigned to MacDill AFB, in Tampa, FL.

They welcomed daughter Jo Orr in 1946. As the US Army Air Corps left the Army in 1947, Jack was a “Plank Owner” for the US Airforce, and he helped usher in the age of jets. In 1948, Jack, Betty and Judy headed to Furstenfeldburk Air Base, Germany, assigned to the 36th Fighter Bomber Wing where he ran the flight line as the Chief of the Flight Line Section. He supported the airlift flights into Berlin, which was later dubbed the “Berlin Airlift”. The family welcomed son John Orr in 1948.

In 1955, Jack and the family headed to Tangier, Morocco where he was assigned as the Air Attaché and the Crew Chief for the US Embassy C-47. Tangier became too dangerous, and they moved the C-47 to Egypt, so Jack and the family were reassigned to Special Air Mission Squadron, Rhein-Main, Germany.

He returned to the US in 1958, was selected to the NCO Academy, was tasked with NCO retention, served as the Commandant of the NCO Prep School, and eventually retired from Ent AFB, CO in 1966 after 26 years of service. Jack was truly an example of the “Greatest Generation”.  After his retirement from the USAF, he worked at Mitchell High School from 1966 until he retired in 1981.

Jack loved to fly, and continued his flying as a private pilot, flying up and down the Front Range. He enjoyed the outdoors, hunting, fishing and he even built an A-Frame cabin in Rainbow Valley near Divide, using the project as a teaching experience for some of the kids from Mitchell High in the 1970s. Jack loved his Air Force, and was always ready to share stories of his service, his fellow airman and their amazing experiences during his celebrated career.

Jack is preceded in death by his father, Arthur A. Orr; his mother, Dean Burrows Orr; his brother, Arthur W. Orr; his beloved wife, Betty Travarthen Orr, his daughter, Jo Orr Young.  He is survived by his daughter Judith Orr Egan; his son, John D. Orr; his
Grandchildren, John Egan; Kelly Egan Michels; Tannan Orr; Brandon Orr; his Great Grandchildren, Kelsea Michels Teague; Mackenzie Michels Becker; Jordin Egan; Brennan Michels; Jack Egan; Natalie Orr; Tallulah Orr; Lillian Orr; Eden Orr; and his Great, Great, Grand Daughter, Lydia Teague.

Graveside services will be 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at Oak Grove Cemetery in Paducah with full military honors.  There is no visitation scheduled.  Keeling &  Goodman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Oak Grove Cemetery

Paducah, KY

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