Austin Lindsey Gulfport age 85, passed away Sat. 12/31/16. Arrangements are pending with RIEMANN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, 11280 Three Rivers Rd, Gulfport.
Obituary of Austin Lindsey
Captain Austin Monroe Lindsey (U.S. Navy, Retired), aged 85, of Bullis Avenue, Gulfport, Mississippi, passed away peacefully in his home on December 31, 2016 surrounded by his family and loved ones.
A memorial will be held at The Nourishing Place, 630 Tennessee Street, Gulfport, MS, on January 7, 2017. Visitation will take place at 10:00 am, and the memorial service will take place at 11:00 am. Burial with military honors will take place at the Biloxi National Cemetery, 400 Veterans Avenue, Biloxi, Mississippi, on January 9, 2017, at 11:00 am. Arrangements are being made by the Riemann Family Funeral Home.
Son of the late Monroe Lindsey and Gladys Freeman Lindsey, 612 Ruth Avenue, whose families have deep roots in the history of Gulfport, Austin was born on January 12, 1931, in Gulfport. He attended Gulfport High School, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma and graduated in 1948. He then entered the Merchant Marines for two years. After the Merchant Marines, he enrolled in and then graduated in 1955 from Tulane University with a BS degree in Psychology. He married Shirley Thompson Lowe in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 2, 1955, and together they raised two daughters. He entered the U.S. Navy on June 3, 1955, immediately received flight training, and then served for over 23 years as a career officer until he retired on June 30, 1978.
In the early years he served with Fighter Squadrons 101, 124, and 152. Then In 1962 he completed a 3-year tour with the Office of Information in Washington, D.C. The family lived in Pensacola, Florida, Corpus Christi, Texas, Sunnyvale, California, Alexandria, Virginia, and finally in 1963 the settled in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There Austin served multiple Navy tours out of Virginia Beach and Norfolk until he retired in 1978. In 1995, Austin re- located back to Gulfport.
In his Navy career as a fighter pilot, Austin holds a rare record of having had 3 potentially deadly aircraft accidents, the first while flying an F4-A and performing a night landing on an airstrip in Florida. He described what happened: "… my nose wheel simply collapsed and I slid 3-4,000 feet down the runway trailing flames. The centerline tank ruptured during the slide and a small amount of residual fuel sparked off. After the aircraft came to a stop, my [Naval Flight Officer] NFO (back seater) and I simply climbed down and waited for a ride. The fire had gone out on its own. …. "
The second incident was in Vietnam, when, as a member of Fighter Squadron VF-41, the "Black Aces," he was unable to land on the aircraft carrier USS Independence due to a hydraulic pump failure that prevented the landing gear from lowering. As he described, "… the ship diverted me to Da Nang [for a night landing] … I activated my emergency air system to lower the landing gear, but only the left main and the nose wheel came down. So now I was faced with a one wheel up landing. I flew out over the water and dumped my ordinance, returned to Da Nang and asked for landing … It so happened that they had an emergency arresting gear rigged [a very short] 300 feet from the overrun [and wire]. I burned my fuel to a low state, made the approach, caught the wire and slid out on two landing gear and an empty bomb rack. .. My NFO and I opened our canopies as if we did this stuff every day. Everything was cool and there was no fire…."
The third incident occurred during the Vietnam War, over Laos. In his last combat mission, on October 25, 1965, his F4 Phantom jet took enemy fire. Austin wrote this recollection in 2012 at age 81: "… We dropped our [WWII 250 lb. fragmentation bombs over the Ho Chi Mien trail] and as we were climbing out my aircraft was hit and decided not to cooperate any longer. The cockpits began filling with smoke so my NFO jettisoned his canopy. With it gone, suction pulled flames out from under his seat, so he ejected. Now it gets heavy. The flames came around me and burned my face and hands. I pulled my seat's face curtain to eject but nothing happened. … I then pulled the seat's secondary firing handle without results. I next pulled the canopy jettison handle but it wouldn't move. I was not too functional at this time and I thought about the end. But, the canopy left and the seat operated normally, my chute opened and I could see the trees getting closer. … and down I went into the foliage. My chute caught up in the top of a tree and my feet landed on a limb next to the main trunk. I disconnected from my chute and sat down on the limb. I was 80 feet up. I clearly remember the thought, as I looked down, "this is no time to screw up". I disconnected and dropped my seat survival pack to the ground, put my gloves on over my burns and skinned down the tree. The limb I had sat on was the lowest limb on the tree. An hour or so later the Air Force sent two … helos … The helicopter pilots called the area we were in, "the land of the 100 foot trees." We were plucked out of the jungle and taken to a refurbished WWII Japanese hospital … we returned to flight duty the next January."
The President of the United States awarded him the Purple Heart for wounds suffered when his aircraft was shot down. Austin was also awarded two Distinguished Crosses by the President of the United States, the second as a Gold Star to the first, for heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight in Southeast Asia in September and October, 1965, and an Air Medal for 6 strikes in July-October 1965.
The events that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross Medals can only be given the justice they deserve through the U.S. Navy's official description: "For sustained heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as the pilot of an F-4B Phantom II aircraft … Lt. Cmdr. Lindsey participated in a series of strike missions against selected targets …. These attacks were unparalleled in that they marked the first time that the F-4B was utilized for instrument bombing through its radar system. Lt. Cmdr. Lindsey was required to fly close formation at a high airspeed and extremely low altitude in total darkness in the face of severe anti-aircraft fire, and, at the same time, monitor the flight perimeters to ensure maintenance of the preselected track, speed and altitude so essential for success. The target selected for the second flight, a chemical storage area, lent itself for spectacular analysis of results when, after bomb release, flames several hundred feet high leaping above the ground were observed by other aircraft over 100 miles away. Due to the unusually hazardous nature of these missions, the concerted defensive posture present in the target area, and the professional skill needed to monitor the attack presentation on radar, the selection of flight crews for the strikes was placed strictly on a voluntary basis. Lt. Cmdr. Lindsey was the only pilot in his squadron to volunteer for and fly all three strike missions. His exceptionally heroic performance under extremely difficult flying conditions and severe resistance from the enemy and his devotion to duty wile proving the worth of a new facet of the F-4B weapons system were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
In addition, the Secretary of the Navy awarded him a Navy Commendation Medal with a gold star with combat "V" for meritorious achievement in connection with operations in Southeast Asia in the summer of 1964 and October 1965. "For meritorious achievement while attached to and serving with Fighter Squadron 41 embarked in USS Independence … Lt Cmdr. Lindsey was directly responsible for the conception, development, and evaluation of a multi-purpose survival vest/parachute harness combination which recently contributed to the successful survival and subsequent rescue of several air crew members. … Since the manufacture of the vests … they have been worn continually by flight crew members of VF 41 … [including] during combat missions over Southeast Asia, and have been adopted by many other jet squadrons for their own use. In designing this multi-purpose vest, Lt. Cmdr. Lindsey demonstrated exceptional skill and resourcefulness and directly contributed to increased survivability of downed airmen throughout the Navy. His foresight, technical ability, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
He received additional awards, including a Joint Service Commendation Medal issued by Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic NATO for outstanding performance of his duties from January 1969 to May 1970, when he was solely responsible for the design and development of a major live exercise for the fleet. The commendation stated, "Much of the credit for the coordination, development and successful achievement of the planning of all fleet air strike and support exercises within the Allied Command Atlantic is due to his strong initiative, exceptional managerial and intellectual ability and the conscientious application with which he devoted himself to this task."
He also received an Armed Forces Expeditionary (Taiwan Straits, Vietnam) National Defense Service Medal (Vietnam Service, Republic of Vietnam Campaign).
After his combat tour in Vietnam, his next set of tour duties were with fighter squadron VF-11, "The Red Rippers," where he moved up to serve as Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer in 1971-72. In his last sea-going position, he was Operations Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Kennedy (CV-67), which practically speaking made him third in command of this major attack carrier.
In his last position before retiring, he worked as the Director of Long Range Objectives for NATO Naval Forces at Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) in Norfolk, Virginia, and also did a tour as Assistant Inspector General for the Atlantic Fleet.
After retirement he explored several business opportunities before moving to Gulfport.
In Gulfport, Austin became extremely active with city projects. An avid photographer all his life, he collected historical photographs of the City, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. In 1998 he helped open the Gulfport Centennial Museum in an old train depot for the city's 100-year anniversary, which featured a history of Gulfport and contained some 1,500 photographs he had collected, most taken before 1950. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi coast, hitting Gulfport with unprecedented destructive force, he continued to take photographs to document the city. Many can be viewed in various public places in Gulfport. A set of his photos are also published in "Katrina's Grace: Wind, Water and Wisdom", by Sandra Lynn Price and Susan Toney. In 2015 his vintage post card collection was showcased at the Historic Carnegie Library during the Christmas Gala Celebration.
Panorama and other photographs of Gulfport are publicly viewable at the local drug store, Triplet Day, where, along with a regular set of buddies, Austin shared many meals including breakfast 3-5 days a week.
He was strongly connected to his church, The Nourishing Place, starting in about 1998, where he was involved in bibles studies, food sharing, and fellowship. He was also one of the early "morning Chefs" of the church for at least 6 years, cooking breakfast on Sunday mornings before the services. He was also the photographer for church activities and was involved in every aspect of church life. He is remembered as a natural leader who served God by serving the church body.
Austin is survived by his sister, Dale Lindsey Simpkins, and her husband, Harry Simpkins (Ridgeland, MS) and his former wife, Shirlee Lindsey (Virginia Beach, VA), and by his daughters, Gwen Christin Lindsey of Oakland, CA and Diane Robin Lindsey Keith and son-in-law Bobby Keith (Lawrenceville GA) and their daughters Madeline Pamela Keith (Lawrenceville, GA), Bailey Lindsey Keith (husband Adam Venable and daughter, Adalee Sky Keith) (Bethlehem, GA), and Skylar Gwen Keith (Lawrenceville GA).
Austin has numerous nieces and nephews: Nephew Monty Simpkins and wife Maryann (Madison, Miss.) and their children, Daniel (wife Helen Simpkins and son Monroe), Mary Lindsey Simpkins Jackson (husband Troy Jackson) (Ashville, NC), and Mollie Simpkins Warren (husband Kit Warren) (Knoxville, TN); nephew Marc Simpkins and wife Ruth (Leesburg, GA) and their children Sarah Dale Simpkins Harmon (husband Justin Harmon) (Madison, MS) and Avery Simpkins (Atlanta, GA); niece Virginia Simpkins Darwin and husband Mike Darwin (Birmingham, AL), and their children Andrew Darwin (Birmingham, AL), Joseph Darwin (Nashville TN), Stephen Darwin (Auburn, AL), and Daniel Darwin (Birmingham, AL); nephew Kelly Simpkins and wife Angela and their children Kenan Simpkins (Starkville, MS), Lockard Simpkins (Memphis TN), and Jubillee Simpkins (Madison, MS); and nephew Joseph Simpkins and wife Leslie (Cary, NC) and their children Hannah Simpkins Janoe (husband Taylor Janoe) (Orange Park, FL), Zachery Simpkins (Boone, NC), and Geena Rose Simpkins (Boone, NC).
His First Cousins in the Lindsey family include John Edward Walker, Edward Stormant Lindsey, William English Lindsey, Crockett Lindsey, Victor Lindsey, and David Lindsey. Second cousin Helen Lindsey Dunn lives in Gulfport, MS.