Joseph Dennis McGraw, 91, of Coupeville and Burlington, Washington, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 24, 2015 at his home surrounded by loving family.
He is survived by his especially beloved and best friend for life wife Diana (Bryson) McGraw, and his children Michael (Jeanette) McGraw, Terese (Mike) Ramsey, Mary (Glen) Wadley, Joe McGraw, Denise (Alex) Mowery, 9 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Born to James and Mary McGraw in Cleveland, Ohio and growing up in Dewitt, New York Joe was third oldest of eight children: Mary, Bill, (Joe), Teresa, Raymond, James, John and Alice.
He graduated from high school in June of 1942 and at the age of 19 went to war after completing Naval Flight training, being commissioned an Ensign and winning his "Wings of Gold" in July of 1943. Joe saw action flying FM-2 "Wilder Wildcats" in the Pacific where in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and achieved "Ace" status with 5 aerial combat victories over enemy fighters and bombers. He later served with Air Group 101 aboard USS Boxer flying more than 60 missions over Korea in the F-9 Panther Jet. Joe eventually completed 25 years of service with retirement in 1968. His service awards include the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and 8 Air Medals. Additionally the Congress of the United States, on May 20th, 2015 awarded the American Fighter Aces the Congressional Gold Medal for "heroic actions as an American Fighter Ace".
Joe enjoyed his first "retirement" in which he and Diana took up ranching, raising kids and horses in Colorado and flying slurry bombers against forest fires. After hanging up his spurs in Colorado he fulfilled a promise to Diana to take her back to the sea and they retired in truth to the wonderful community life in Coupeville and then Burlington, Washington.
The family would like to express their deep, heartfelt gratitude for all of the loving and caring expression of sympathy and joyful celebration of Joe's life pouring out from family and friends. We are very grateful for the loving care and assistance from Hospice of the Northwest and the Visiting Angels organization which helped him and us have wonderful and blessed times as he completed this part of his journey and launched on his next flight leg.