Wing leadership honors base namesake with cemetery visit

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  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The leadership team of the 55th Wing took time to honor and remember Offutt Air Force Base’s namesake during a visit to Forrest Lawn Memorial Park Oct. 21, 2020.

U.S. Army 1st. Lt. Jarvis Offutt, who the sprawling 4,000-acre base is named in honor of, was Omaha’s first World War I air casualty.

Offutt was serving with the Royal Air Force’s 56 Squadron when he died from injuries after his plane crashed over Valheureux, France, on August 13, 1918. He was interred at the family’s plot at the cemetery in 1923.

“This is something I’ve been wanting to do since I arrived here,” said Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander. “We hear and say the name a lot, while maybe not stopping to realize the sacrifice he and his family made in service to our country. That is something we should never forget or overlook.”

Originally established as Ft. Crook, the base’s airfield was renamed Offutt Field in his honor in 1924. The ceremony was attended by his mother and brother and featured an aerial salute.

“I know our teammates at the 56 Squadron have taken time out to visit the grave while they’re here training, so it’s great to know that his legacy also remains part of their unit as well,” Marks said.

Following the National Security Act of 1947, the installation was transferred to the newly established Air Force and renamed Offutt Air Force Base in 1948.

Today, more than 10,000 people serve at Offutt, which is home to the 55th Wing, U.S. Strategic Command and the 557th Weather Wing among others.