On May 20, 1967, our friend and fellow Rotarian, Colonel Jack L. Van Loan of the United States Air Force, was shot down during his 74th combat mission. He was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent over 2100 days as a prisoner of war. On March 4, 1973, Colonel Van Loan was released from his internment at the “Hanoi Hilton”.
Jack graduated in 1975 from the National War College in Washington D.C. His final assignments were as Vice Commander and then Commander of the 507th Tactical Air Control Wing, and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations with Headquarters 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from July 1978 until his retirement from the Air Force on November 1, 1984.
Colonel Van Loan holds the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster and the Prisoner of War medal.
Jack has made a tremendous and positive impact on Columbia as the Past President of Columbia Rotary Club, the Economic Development Director for the Five Points community, a Past President of the Five Points Association, and a chairman of the St. Pat’s in Five Points committee. The South Carolina Senate adopted a resolution in July 2012 honoring Colonel Van Loan for his volunteer service in the community, his achievements and sacrifices while active in the military and his numerous civilian accomplishments.
Happy Freedom Day, Jack! We are grateful for your service and proud to call you “friend”!