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George William Kronsbein, Jr.

No. 1969916 November 1932 - 28 January 2011

Died: Las Vegas, NV

Interred: Southern Nevada Veterans Cemetery, Boulder City, NV

George William Kronsbein, Jr. was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, the only son of George and Mary Kronsbein. He attended Brooklyn Preparatory School, where he established life-long friendships and ties to the city. With frequent trips  to Bear Mountain and West Point as a youth, proximity to the city and his family and friends, and the promise of an excellent education and an adventurous career, West Point was a natural. Entering the Corps just a month out of high school and at the start of the Korean War, meeting new friends from across the nation, and embarking on Plebe year was a dramatic experience for George. The challenge was accepted, and with support, cooperation and common goals of his classmates, he survived to become a yearling. Not all was well, however, and frequent run-ins with the Tactical Department managed to provide many hours of exercise in Central Area and narrowed his perspectives to Barracks 34. This proved, in the long run, to be very helpful, as academic standing grew since nothing else could be done other than study and go to the gym. The support and considerations of roommates and company mates got George through these turbulent periods. This rocky cadet track, however, led to the opportunity to select the U.S. Air Force and pilot training for the future.


Breaking the bounds of the Tri-state New York area, George embarked on a journey to Marana Air Base, AZ, for flight training. There, in addition to learning to fly, he met wife-to-be Anita Floyd, and they were married in November 1954 in Tucson, AZ. A year later, while at Tyndall AFB advanced

F-86D training, their oldest daughter, Candace Lynn, was born. Unable to escape the New York area, George’s first permanent assignment was to the 332nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at McGuire AFB, NJ. While at McGuire, a son, George III, was added to the family in October 1957. At the same time, the squadron transitioned to the F-102 aircraft and entered the supersonic era.


In 1959, George was selected to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, and the squadron was selected for transfer to Thule AFB, Greenland. After graduating with a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering, and while at Squadron Officers School, George and Anita were blessed with a third child, Anita Dee, in May 1961. Assigned to the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirkland AFB, George first became associated with the nuclear weapons community. By 1964, George was ready to get back in the flying game. Special Air Warfare Operations were just being recognized, and George was assigned to Hurlburt Field, FL, to fly A-1 Skyraider aircraft for reassignment to southeast Asia.


George arrived in Vietnam on 16 May 1965 en route to Bien Hoa AB just in time to see the Viet Cong destroy numerous aircraft on the ramp. Flying with the 602nd Fighter Squadron from multiple bases in Vietnam and Thailand, George racked up 666 combat hours, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and ten Air Medals. On 6 Nov 1965, however, while on a search and rescue mission, George’s flight lost two A-1s and an HH-53 chopper over North Vietnam. This operation, which resulted in ten men becoming POWs, remained with him the rest of his life.


Returning to Hurlburt Field, George trained A-1 pilots for Vietnam service through 1969, punctuated by three months in southeast Asia with the 1st Air Commando Squadron,  introducing the first fuel air munitions to the theater. In 1969 came a giant leap from the A-1 to the F-111, a twin-engine, two-man fighter. A three-year tour with the Royal Air Force in  Upper Heyford, England, in F-111s was highlighted by command of the 55th Fighter Squadron. George considered this the best assignment in the Air Force. Returning to the states after a quick tour in Thailand, George retired in 1976 at Nellis AFB.


George joined the civilian nuclear weapons test community in 1976 as a contract project engineer for the Energy Research and Development Administration at the Nevada Test Site. In 1978, he completed the MB program at the University of Nevada while working at the NTS. In the 80s, he spent what he called a seven-year hardship tour in Hawaii as the manager of Pacific Operations for the Department of Energy and Defense Nuclear Agency Johnston Island and Marshall Islands programs, remnants of the atmosphere and exo-atmospheric testing era. The contract required frequent travels to Bikini Atoll, Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Johnston Island. Being in Hawaii also offered George and Anita the opportunity for extensive travel to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.


Back on the mainland in 1990 and settled in Boulder City, NV, George returned to managing engineering for Nevada Test Site operations and facilities. Over the years, four grandchildren - Dustin, Keri, Kacie and Travis—were added to the family. In June 2002, Anita succumbed after a long fight with a number of illnesses, including cancer. In December 2004, George finally retired to become full-time custodian of his three Bassett hounds. George continued to travel, keeping in touch with good friends and family. His daughters accompanied him to his 55th West Point reunion, which forever will be one of their most cherished memories.


In January 2010, George began his battle with cancer. In his calm and inspiring manner, he made it through chemo, radiation, and removal of a brain tumor. His recovery appeared to be making remarkable progress when he was ultimately stricken with the pneumonia that took him from us. We were blessed to have had him as our friend and father.


The journey started in a middle class neighborhood in Brooklyn, traversed four continents, seven decades and carried with it our cherished concepts of Duty, Honor, Country, and added love of family.


Originally published in TAPS, July 2011

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