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James Helfrich Cronin
James Helfrich Cronin

James Helfrich Cronin

No. 2005930 September 1929 - 3 February 1970

Died: Little Rock, Arkansas
Interred: Forest Hills Memorial Park, Little Rock, Arkansas

JAMES HELFRICH CRONIN was born on 30 September 1929 in East Orange, New Jersey. His family moved to south Florida when he was four and Jim grew up in Miami, Florida.

As a boy Jim was active in scouting and had an interest in all sports through high school. As a teenager he spent his summers in Maine where he grew to love the out-of-doors and found a lifelong interest in fresh-water fishing.

After graduation from high school at Miami High in Miami, Florida, Jim attended Virginia Military Institute for two years. As a Brother Rat, Jim's special interest was the Virginia Military Institute Glee Club. Nationally known, they traveled most of the East and made several recordings.

Jimmy loved West Point and was proud of belonging to the Corps. Upon graduation he was commissioned in the Air Force. Flight training followed, starting at Hondo, Texas, and ending with his assignment to a B-47 crew at Little Rock Air Force Base. He served with the 544th Bombing Squadron from 1955 until 1961. Temporary duty was the order of the day and Jim was airborne and on alert most of this tour.

He did find time to court and marry a wonderful girl in Little Rock. Sara Strange and her daughter Laurie became Jim's family on 4 July 1957. Jim remained at Little Rock for two more years as staff planner for the 384th Bomber Wing.

In 1963 he began a three-year tour on the staff of the Second Air Force. He supervised preparation of war and training operations and served as an inspector and briefing officer for the fourteen bases within the Second Air Force Complex. For this service he received the Air Force Commendation Medal. In 1966 Major Cronin was selected for the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Alabama.

After graduation he went through transition to the C-130 aircraft and was involved in the airlift operation in Southeast Asia and Vietnam with the 772d Tactical Squadron.

Upon return from Southeast Asia he was stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base until he left the service in April 1969.

Jim, Sara, and Laurie settled in Little Rock and Jim was beginning to establish himself in the life insurance business when he died suddenly of pneumonia on 3 February 1970.

My brother Jim lived faithfully by the timeless motto of West Point, "Duty, Honor, Country" and I'm sure he has assumed his place in the Long Gray Line which "stretches through the years of a century told." Jim, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. Amen.

— John W. Cronin
Captain, USNR

Originally published in ASSEMBLY, Spring 1971

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