Jerry "Groovy" Vanatta

26 January 1936 - 14 June 2001

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1967-8 Cruisebook photo, L-R: Cooke, Bandow, Jerry Smith, Jerry Vanatta (in baseball hat) 1969 Cruisebook photo
"Fun in the Sun, May 1969
L-R: Jerry Vanatta, Doug Huff, Jim Hall

Jerry Smith remembers Jerry this way:

At this remove, everyone looks like a kid.  These were great and troubling times, and the tension was often relieved by the colorful characters in that unholy group of rotor heads.  As some measure of help, I note that some of the RR’s are not yet found, but I certainly remember some of them:

 Jerry Vanatta:  A returning LCDR, Jerry was my co-pilot during the 67-68 cruise, while fleeting back up to HAC.  A good guy, Jerry spent a lot of time singing “Downtown” while heading to North SAR to await the news of some poor soul who had run afoul of the NVN antiaircraft catalogue.  The rest of us crew dogs used to yell at him to SHADDUP!  His key was all wrong, and we all loved Petula Clarke – his singing talent was not of the highest order.  None of us could figure out whether he was a morbid moron or a great guy with a really bent sense of humor – the latter was the correct conclusion. A good man is Jerry – I hope he emerges from the gloom of the past.

Jerry with the Raunchy Redskins just prior to Al Fox's Change of Command

Jerry was the first Commanding Officer of HSL-35.  Here he's being relieved by Chuck Craft, HSL-35's second CO

Jerry retired as a Captain and is buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.