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Keith Crawford Spayde Jr.

September 12, 1927 April 29, 2019
Keith Crawford Spayde Jr.
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Obituary for Keith Crawford Spayde Jr.

Capt. Keith Crawford “Casey” Spayde, Jr. USN (Ret.) received his final orders on 29 April 2019 in Houston, TX, he was 91 years old. Born in Baltimore, MD on 12 Sept. 1927, he was the eldest of three children born to Keith and Cora Spayde. The family subsequently moved to Owings Mills, MD where Casey attended McDonough School (then a military academy). In 1946 he received a congressional appointment to the US Naval Academy for Maryland.

Upon graduation with the Class of 1950, his first duty assignment was as a crewmember on the Naval Academy’s 72ft Yawl Royono for the Newport-Bermuda Yacht Race. An assignment to USS Mindoro (CVE-120) preceded flight training and his Navy wings in July 1952. Assigned to VC-33 at NAS Atlantic City, NJ he flew AD Skyraider night attack aircraft and deployed aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) and then USS Midway (CVA-41) for an around-the-world cruise (1954-55).

Following General Line School in Monterey, CA, he served as an instructor in the Marine Engineering Department at the USNA from 1956-59. It was there that he met and married the former Nancy Marie Durig of Moundsville, WV who was teaching at Annapolis High School. Following jet transitional training, he flew the A2D Skyhawk in VA-83, having three deployments on the USS Forrestal (CVA-59), followed by staff duty with NORAD in Colorado Springs, CO where his daughter was born in 1964. The next four years took Casey to Cecil Field, FL as XO and CO of VA-64, with cruises aboard USS America (CVA-66) and USS Independence (CVA-62).

He was very proud of his 851 carrier landings made between 1952 and 1969 (291 at night); however, it was the landing that did not go so well in 1953 when he learned his true worth – 10 gallons of ice cream. While qualifying to land A-1s, Casey put his plane into the sea and was rescued by the crew from the trailing destroyer (USS Gyatt). At that time aircraft carriers had ice cream makers, destroyers did not; and a pilot returned to his carrier was worth 10 gallons of ice cream. It took several days but, the ice cream was delivered and Casey returned to his ship to fly another day.

The 1970’s brought a tour of duty as XO USS Oriskany (CV-34) during a Vietnam deployment, followed by assignment as Training Officer CNAVANTRA and Safety Officer CNATRA both at NAS Corpus Christi – where Casey had the great honor of participating in the training of the first female Naval Aviators to earn their wings in 1974. In 1975 he was assigned as the Asst. Chief of Staff (J1), US Forces Japan at Yokota Air Force Base during which time he received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and a personal letter of commendation from then Ambassador Mike Mansfield. Closing out his active duty career as Deputy Director of Naval History in Washington, D.C., Captain Spayde retired on 1 July 1980 and the family relocated to the warmth of South Texas and the friendliness of Corpus Christi.

After retirement, he joined Burnside-Ott Aviation and later Ford Aerospace as a flight simulator instructor training student Naval Aviators. After Nancy’s death in 1986, he bought a 44 ft trawler which he lived aboard for 12 years. The highlight of that time was undertaking the “small circle cruise” from Texas, around the Gulf of Mexico, across Florida, up the East Coast, through lakes and inland waterways, eventually reaching the Great Lakes and finally returning via the Mississippi River to settle in Houston.

He is survived by daughter, Pamela, and her wife Anne, of Houston, TX; and sister, Sue Sparks of Middlebury, VT. Preceding him in death were wife, Nancy; and sister, Joan Prince of Weston, MA. Inurnment will take place In Arlington National Cemetery next to his wife and close to his Father (WWI) and Mother.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to a charity / military organization of your choice.

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