Capt. Grant 'Red' Boice, 85; naval aviator, served in 3 wars

Obituary by Jack Williams

October 26, 2005 Once Grant "Red" Boice earned his wings during World War II, he forgot all about going back to college to become a veterinarian. "He found a great passion for flying that set him on a path of service and adventure throughout his career," said his son Daniel. Capt. Boice, who had studied veterinary medicine at Colorado State University, became a naval aviator in April 1943. He went on to earn two awards of the Legion of Merit in a 31-year career that included commands of air squadrons, an ammunition ship and a naval air station plus a high NATO staff position. "Grant was able to get all the good jobs naval aviators want," said retired Navy Capt. Dick Hanecak, a longtime friend. "He had a stellar career." Capt. Boice, whose naval service spanned three wars, died Oct. 12 at Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla. He was 85. The cause of death was complications from a stroke he suffered five years ago, his son said.
"Grant was as steady a leader as you can find," said retired Vice Adm. Howard Greer. "He carried out each assignment with expertise and was always popular with the people who worked for him, regardless of their rank." Capt. Boice was born June 11, 1920, in Manassa, Colo., birthplace of boxing legend Jack Depsey, one of his heroes when he was growing up. "He told stories of laboring in the fields, riding to school on horseback and enduring extremely cold winters," Daniel Boice said. Because of his flaming red hair, childhood friends dubbed him "Red." He was on track to fulfill his dream of becoming a veterinarian when World War II intervened.
In July 1942, he joined the naval aviation cadet program in Pensacola, Fla.
His first tour of duty in 1943 was in Green Cove Springs, Fla., where he trained young pilots. Assigned to Air Group Fourteen in December 1944, he flew Corsairs as a fighter pilot aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid.
In December 1948, Capt. Boice completed his first of several Mediterranean deployments by serving aboard the aircraft carrier Coral Sea. Then he was involved in an exchange tour with the Air Force. He flew tactical jets until January 1952.
During the Korean War, he attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey.
He later flew Cutlass and Skyhawk aircraft as commanding officer of Attack Squadron 86, based at Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, Florida.
In 1963, Capt. Boice was assigned to the central command in Paris of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Promoted to captain, he went on to become European representative of the Commander of NATO'S Striking Fleet Atlantic.
During the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Capt. Boice commanded the ammunition ship Sitkin, which was lauded for its efficiency in carrying supplies to the theater of operations.
A land assignment followed in Stuttgart, Germany, and in 1969 he married Jacqueline "Jackie" Lesniewska, the daughter of a Romanian prince.
For four years during the Vietnam War, Capt. Boice commanded reserves at Naval Air Station in Los Alamitos.
He retired in 1973 to an avocado ranch in Fallbrook and bought a five-bedroom, ocean-view vacation home in Rosarito, Baja California, where he and his wife enjoyed entertaining.
"Grant was a very generous guy," Hanecak said. "He sold avocados to the commissary at Camp Pendleton for 3 cents a pound with the provision that the commissary wouldn't charge the service men more than 25 cents a pound."
After suffering a disabling stroke in Monterrey, Mexico, Capt. Boice got around in a wheelchair. The stroke prompted a move to Clairemont, where he could be closer to his doctors.
Survivors include his wife, Jackie; sons, Grant Boice of Sacramento, Larry Boice of Provo, Utah, and Daniel Boice of San Antonio; 12 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.
Burial: Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary, Point Loma, San Diego County, California

R.I.P. Capt. Grant Boice

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