"Mister Maintenance"- Remembering Chief Warrant Officer W4 Jack H. Cronise
By Chief Master Sgt. Gene Thomas, OreANG (Retired), !42nd Fighter Wing History Department
/ Published October 27, 2014
PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- Mr. Jack H. Cronise (May 3, 1924 - Feb. 17, 2009) was an icon in the Oregon Air National Guard's aircraft maintenance history. His total aviation career spanned a world war and two conflicts since his enlistment in 1943. Jack served 43 years in the military. He held every enlisted rank before being commissioned as a Warrant Officer in 1956. (Warrant Officers are addressed as Mister or Mr.)
Mr. Cronise was always interested in aviation. Prior to enlistment in the WWII Army Air Corps, he had a pilot license and aircraft and engine repair certificates.
After basic and advanced training in medium bomber systems in WWII, he was assigned as a crew chief, flight engineer and cannoneer and earned the enlisted air crew badge (wings).
Following WWII, in 1946, Jack joined the Oregon Air National Guard (OreANG) and was assigned as a crew chief on P-51, C-47 and T-6 aircraft. "I was attracted to the guard because of my genuine love for airplanes," he said.
Later he was instrumental in overseeing the OreANG conversion to the Jet Age in 1953. From then he worked on and supervised maintenance on all 22 different types of aircraft assigned to the OreANG from 1946 to 1986. He witnessed many changes throughout his 43 year career, some big, some small. The Air Force birth in 1947, was the big one, said Mr. Cronise, so was the birth of the jet age. He also noted the smaller, more subtle aspects of the Air Force. The Customer Service provided today in such places as Finance and Consolidated Personnel Office is much better. There was a time when you walked in those places, they might gruffly say "what do you want?" whereas today they are interested in providing you a service.
Mr. Cronise spent all of his military time in aircraft maintenance, was a branch officer in all five branches of the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, which was the largest squadron in the State of Oregon, with 425 authorized positions.
Jack was called to active duty for the last time in 1986 for "Operation Creek Klaxon" at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The reason for Operation Creek Klaxon was to allow the USAFE's 526th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing to convert from F-4E to F-16C fighter aircraft and still cover an air defense alert commitment day-to-day at Ramstein AB.
The Air National Guard's Detachment 11, with F-4D's took over the air defense alert mission responsibilities that the 526th had pulled in F-4E's. The OreANG sent aircrews and maintainers on rotation to help out, joining several other ANG units from Duluth, Fargo, Niagara Falls and other places to provide for the all-ANG operation, which lasted for a year, ending on April 1, 1987.
Then Lt. Co.l David Ward, OreANG, (Brig. Gen, ORANG (Ret) was the permanent maintenance officer for the Creek Klaxon operation and recalled, "Jack Cronise set up an institutionalize all of the logistics support, aircraft maintenance cycles and schedules for maintenance personnel in support of the Detachment 11 operation and alert commitment. Mr.Cronise's contribution to the success of the operation was "immeasurable."
Jack became known throughout the F-101 and F-4 maintenance community as "Mr. Maintenance," for his knowledge, experience and professionalism. Jack was one of my mentors. His death was a personal loss."
While on leave in Europe during his Creek Klaxon service Jack and his wife Debbie toured many countries before returning to Oregon to retire.
He also had the distinction of reportedly being the last Warrant Officer on duty with the USAF, retiring in 1987.
The OreANG achieved many awards and accomplishments which could be credited directly to Jack Cronise's guidance and wisdom.
In 1998 a "Jack Cronise Maintenance Award" was established in 142nd Fighter Wing aircraft maintenance, an award which is presented each year to an outstanding maintenance professional. It is certainly a fitting name for such an award, reflecting the legacy of outstanding achievement by Mr. Jack H. Cronise during his service with the Oregon ANG.