LCDR John Edward Schaefer, Jr. was born in Orlando, Oklahoma,on December 13, 1924. He received his commission after graduating from Columbia University in 1945. As a Surface Warfare Officer, he served on four destroyers, the USS Bennion, USS Rooks, USS McCord, and USS Lind. John was then selected for flight training and was designated as a Naval Aviator in 1949. His first flying assignments were with the VF-54 “Copperheads,” and then with the VF-74 “Be-Devilers.”
During the Korean Conflict, John flew combat missions with the “Redtails’’ of Air Anti-Submarine Squadron 21. Shortly thereafter, he attended the General Line School in Monterey. His vast flying experience landed him assignments at both the Advanced Training Command, and later as a senior instructor at the All-Weather Flight Training Unit in Key West, Florida. There, he instructed other pilots in the F3D-2 Skyknight, the first operational jet-powered, carrier-based night fighter in the world.
John was then selected for, and graduated from, test pilot school. From 1957 to 1959, he tested Catapult Launch and Landing Arresting Systems at Lakehurst NAS. Back on a carrier – the USS Ticonderoga – he served on the staff of Commander Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla Eleven from 1959-1961 as they conducted training operations with the 7th Fleet throughout the Far East. In 1961, John moved his family to Coronado where he served as the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the San Clemente Range. His final assignment was as the OIC NAS North Island Control Tower. John retired on June 30, 1966.
Over the course of his Naval Aviation Career, he amassed over 4,000 flight hours across 11 different planes, 184 carrier landings, and while a test pilot at NAS Lakehurst, he accumulated 382 catapult launches and 1,295 arrested landings. He was awarded the United Nation Occupational Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific, Korean Service, World War II Victory, and two National Defense Service Medals.
His grandson, John Edward Schaefer IV, is carrying on his legacy of service. John IV received his commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in 2019 and earned his Naval Aviator wings of gold on June 24, 2022. He currently flies FA-18 Super Hornets based in Naval Air Station, Lemoore, California.