LCDR Darl W. Jewell Sr. (USN, Retired), took his last flight on June 13, 2017, for a festive reunion with his soulmate and wife of 59 years, Patricia "Pat." He was one month shy of his 90th birthday.
Known by all as "Ace" since he was a child, he left behind many who loved and admired him including his sons, Darl "Deuce" Jr. and his wife, Dianne, William "Trey" and his wife, Annette, Michael (CAPT, USN, Retired) and his wife, Carole; grandchildren, Anna, Travis and Carrie; his sister, Jean; beloved nephew (like-brother), Ken "Spiz" Kennedy; brother-in-law and fellow naval aviator, Joseph "Joe" Strabala, Esq.; a gaggle of boisterous cousins, nieces, nephews, and their families; and dear friends, Joyce Broad, Beverly and Betty Miller and Jean Brehmer.
He was predeceased by his parents, William and Rosa Lee (Jenkins) Jewell; his brothers, Boyd, Randolph "Randy", William "Punk", and Kenneth; and his sisters, Mattie, Bette, and Shirley.
Ace was a 1945 graduate of Fort Hill High School, Cumberland, where he quarterbacked the football team, delivered strikes from the pitcher's mound and served as class president. He enlisted in the Navy toward the end of World War II, qualifying as an aviation machinist mate first class with service as a rear seat gunner in the SB2C Helldiver (U.S.S. Essex). After the war, he attended Potomac State College for two years followed by aviation cadet training at Pensacola, Fla. He was commissioned ensign with Wings of Gold in 1950 and ordered to fighter squadron VF-113 (U.S.S. Philippine Sea) with whom he flew two combat tours during the Korean war. Following Korea, he was a proud member of squadrons VF-54 (U.S.S. Kearsarge), VA-54 (U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard), VA-56 (U.S.S. Midway), VF-124 (NAS Moffett Field, Calif.), VF-111 (U.S.S. Midway, Vietnam War deployment), VA-127 (NAS Lemoore, Calif.), and VRF-31 (NAS Norfolk, Va.). He also served as flight deck officer on the U.S.S. Ranger. He retired as a lieutenant commander after 23 years of active service flying fast and waving them aboard those "rolling postage stamps in the ocean." He was decorated with a Distinguished Flying Cross, earned during a raid in North Korea in 1952.
Ace remained active in retirement, serving as chairman of the Bedford County Air Industrial Park, Bedford, Pa., and overseeing construction of a new regional airport. Golf was the outlet for his athletic talents. He was happiest, however, sharing his life with his darling Pat, puttering around in the garden, browsing through neighborhood yard sales, entertaining friends and attending the occasional squadron reunion. They met when they were both young Navy officers, he an ensign and she a lieutenant junior grade. Though she had to resign her commission when they married, she always outranked him, but he knew he was his best with her by his side. They were inseparable until Pat left us unexpectedly in 2010.
Ace never met a stranger, drawing everyone in with his tall tales, bawdy jokes and skill mixing stiff drinks! Stories of mischief, mayhem and practical jokes, with he and Pat taking the lead, were legendary. This force of nature ultimately was slowed down by arthritis, emphysema and heart failure. He found allies in Dr. Hillary Hawkins (Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers), Dr. Johnny Wong (Pulmonary Associates of Richmond), and Dr. Dean Caven (Virginia Cardiovascular Specialists), each of whom managed to pull him back from the brink on multiple occasions. His innate resilience, fueled by a deeply rooted stubborn streak, helped him overcome his frailties longer than anyone expected.
We thank the staff at Covenant Woods, continuing care retirement community, Mechanicsville, Va., for their devotion to him, whether he was laughing or growling!
We will celebrate his life later this summer. Those wishing to remember Ace are encouraged to make donations to charities supporting military service members and their families.
Published on July 6, 2017