After the Berlin Airlift, Col. Lockhart was accepted for pilot training in Waco, Texas, which he graduated at the top of his class and was promoted to second lieutenant and received his silver wings. His first assignment from pilot training was to Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., where he met his wife, Margaret. During the '50s, he staged bomber operations to Guam and flew in support of ground operations in the Korean theater. In his final combat assignment, he was director of bomber operations at U-Tapao Air Force Base in Thailand; there, he directed and flew B-52 missions in support of U.S. ground combat in South Vietnam, and interdiction of enemy operations in North Vietnam. It had been a standing joke with his son-in-law that Lockhart dropped 500-pound bombs entirely too close to his son-in-law's firing battery position in the Central Highlands.
During his U.S. Air Force career, he flew more than 15,000 hours in many different aircraft and was a command pilot. Some of the aircraft he was qualified in were B-25, B-50, B-47 and B-52. His flying contributions were predominantly with the famous Strategic Air Command (SAC: "Peace is our profession"). Other assignments in various command and staff positions were to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida; Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota; Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska (prestigious SAC Inspector General Team); Defense Support Agency in Philadelphia, Pa.; and finally, McClellan Air Force Base in California, where he and Margaret ultimately retired in Sacramento. There, they enjoyed nearly 30 years of happiness before moving to Hagerstown to join the rest of the family on the East Coast. During his Philadelphia assignment in 1972, he had been the "acceptance pilot" for a Fairchild short takeoff and landing (STOL) combat support aircraft in which he frequently traveled to Hagerstown; it was during these visits that John and Margaret fell in love with Hagerstown and the Cumberland Valley area.
John had a superb operatic voice, thus one of his favorite hobbies was listening to opera, but he always had an intense interest in aviation and air power and was most interested in the progress of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum.
He was a Shriner, a 32nd Degree Mason, and member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Air Force Association, among others.
In addition to his wife, Col. Lockhart is survived by one daughter, Diane L. Truesdell and her husband, John; three grandchildren, Stephanie McGraw and husband, Tim, John Truesdell Jr. and wife, Jennifer, and Laura Wilson and husband, Mike; and great-grandchildren Amanda, Matthew, Scott and Cameron McGraw, Addison Truesdell, and Baby Wilson, due in August. He also is survived by three brothers Thomas, Charles and William, all of Atlanta, Ga.
Graveside services will be Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009, at 11 a.m. at Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery. Military honors will be accorded.
There will be no visitation.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions may be made to The Air Force Memorial Foundation, 1 Air Force Memorial Drive, Arlington, VA 22204
Gerald N. Minnich Funeral Home, Bryan K. Kenworthy P.A., 305 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown, has been entrusted with the arrangements.
Online condolences are accepted at www.geraldminnichfuneralhome.com.