Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

John C. Grago

In Memoriam

December 23, 1921 - December 30, 2017

On December 30, 2017, John Capble Grago, at 96 years of age, and a long-time resident of Seal Beach, California, passed away peacefully at home. John was born in Huntington Park, California, on December 23, 1921, and was raised in a small home with three sisters, (Mary Helen, Frances, and Milly) and three brothers (Joe, Ralph and William).

John attended Huntington Park High School, but left prior to graduating to contribute to his family’s needs. John enlisted in the Navy in November of 1942 and was trained as an Aviation Machinist. In May of 1944, his transfer request to join a Squadron was accepted and he flew check flights on aircrafts after major repairs were performed. Discharged in November of 1945, John worked a few temporary jobs until he was hired by Flying Tigers in 1946. Once at Tigers, he soon received his Certified Airframe Mechanic license and worked in the aircraft hangar with a maintenance crew for 10 years. In 1956, he was promoted to Second Officer and began flying the Lockheed Super H Constellation. From the Constellation, he flew the Canadair CL-44, Boeing 707, DC-8, Boeing 727, and the Boeing 747-100.

John was also involved in many special missions. From August of 1964 to June of 1968, he flew fifty-seven Airlift Logistical Support Missions for the United States Armed Forces, within the Republic of South Vietnam. John was also involved in flying supplies to countries in need after disasters. In 1966, he flew several missions into Ankara, Turkey, supplying earthquake survivors with food and shelter.

On January 21st, 1951, John married the love of his life, Patricia Lee Mitchell. They soon started a family and raised three girls (Cathy, Carol and Tudy), and two boys (Dave and Perry). In addition, Patricia and John volunteered and became Foster Parents. They devoted much of their time and a lot of love, while providing care for infants waiting to be placed into permanent, loving homes. Over the years, they cared for 10 infants and thus, provided a precious contribution to both the children and society.

 John retired from the Flying Tiger Line on May 18, 1984.  His last flight was with Capt. Oakley Smith and F/O Marv Griffith and John's family was there to meet him after landing.  Shown beside John is his son David.  In front are daughters Carol, Cathy, and Trudy with his wife, Pat, standing in front of Marv.

After retiring, John became a tutor for High School students who were struggling with reading and comprehension. He would mentor one student at a time and devote himself to each student until solid progress was achieved. He also became involved with numerous charities/causes providing them with either action and/or monetary support, which helped them continue their mission’s work.

One of John’s greatest joys in retirement was learning to dance. Although John initially, could not even keep a beat, he was determined and utilized workshops, classes, and dances, to the point where he eventually became very proficient. His favorite dances were Foxtrot and East Coast Swing. But, he also learned West Coast Swing, Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha and Rumba. Dancing gave him a wonderful opportunity to not only stay vibrant and active, but to enjoy a satisfying social network, as well. Most importantly, dance enabled him to connect with his three daughters – especially Carol, who is now a very accomplished dancer, thanks to her Dad, John, who introduced her to West Coast Swing.

John had a very special relationship with each of his children. He always provided support, encouragement, and unconditional love.

John is survived by his 5 children Cathy, Carol, Tudy (and husband, Ed), Dave (and wife, Hiromi) and Perry. He also has 2 grandchildren, Tiffany (and husband, Doug) and Tucker; and 2 great-grandchildren, Nolan and Wade.

Per John’s wishes, the family will hold a gathering on Sunday, February 25, at 11:30 to celebrate his life. Lunch at 12:00 Noon. Place: 43 Plymouth. Irvine CA 92620. Phone numbers: Tudy Trgovac 714-328-5992/Dave Grago 480-200-9861.

His family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following charities:

Doctors Without Borders

The Smile Train

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