Cdr. John C. Powell, 89
Born in Shawnee, Okla. in 1919, Cdr. Powell joined the U.S. Navy in 1937, serving 33 years until his retirement in 1970. He was a Mustang, having joined as enlisted, and worked his way up the ranks to receive his commission as Ensign in 1946. He completed the U.S. Navy Five Term Program at the University of Nebraska in 1949. During WWII he was serving on the heavy cruiser USS Astoria when it was sunk by the Japanese in the Battle of Savo Island in the Pacific. He participated in the Battles of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway and the Occupation of Guadalcanal. He also saw combat during the Korean Conflict.
He served as Battalion Officer at the Officer Candidate School in Newport and in the office of the Chief of Naval Operationsin Washington, D.C. His last tour of duty prior to his retirement was as administrative officer at the Boston Naval Shipyard. Recently he completed an oral history on the Battle of Midway for the Naval War College archives.
As a child, he began building model airplanes from chunks of wood. He taught himself to fly by trial and error after he and high school friends rebuilt a Longster plane in 1936. In 1959, he began building his first full size airplane in his garage in Middletown. The single-seat Baby Ace airplane was completed in 1960 and flew to many air shows around the country. He was an active member of the Experimental Aircraft Association for many years. In his later years, he built and flew radio-controlled airplanes.
His talents were not limited to building airplanes. In the 1960's, he built a 15-foot sailboat in the Navy hobby shop and handmade all the sails. He taught his children about the sea and how to sail, inspiring them in their lifelong passion for the ocean and sailing.
He is survived by his daughter Barbara Powell Keeley of Miami, Fla., sons Peter C. Powell of Sausalito Cal., Matthew L. Powell of Middletown, J. Christopher Powell and his wife Candace of Jamestown, and grandchildren Marissa C. Corda of Miami, and Tyler Lane of New Port Richey, Fla. He leaves a brother, A. Vern Powell and his wife Melba of Mt. View, Cal. and brother Lawrence Powell and wife Mona of Petaluma, Cal. His brother Charles Ross, a sister Marie Laury of Chula Vista, Cal., and his first wife Catherine, mother of his children, predeceased him.
Calling hours will be held today, Thursday, Dec. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, with a memorial service to be held Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the funeral home.
Burial with military honors will take place at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. at a later date.