Jack Krings took his last flight on Friday, March 7, 2014. Just as he lived his life, Jack fought complications from Myelodysplastic Syndrome with dignity, courage and tenacity. His life was one of accomplishment, service to his country and love of his family.
The Honorable John Edward Krings was recognized as a national leader in evaluation defense and aviation systems and an international consultant on modernization, evaluation and introduction of new aviation technologies. Mr. Krings was appointed by President Reagan as the First Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, at the level of Assistant Secretary of Defense. In this role, Mr. Krings worked directly for the Secretary of Defense and the Congress, and was a member of the Defense Resources Board and the Defense Acquisition Board. He evaluated and reported independently to the Secretary of Defense and the Congress (to include Caspar Weinberger, Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney) on all major weapons systems operational test results regarding effectiveness and suitability. It was with regret that then President Bush accepted Mr. Krings' resignation with the following words: "As the first Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, you had the difficult task of setting the course. You have often said your allegiance was to the soldier, sailor, Marine and airman. You served them well, insuring that systems procured are adequately tested and proven effective for combat. You set a tone of objectivity and discipline that will be a standard for those to follow. Through your independence and the challenges you overcame, you established a legacy which will benefit the country well into the future."
Prior to the Pentagon, Jack amassed 30 years' experience in aerospace design, engineering, testing, marketing and management with McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Jack joined McDonnell in 1956 as an engineer then progressed from production test pilot to experimental pilot to Chief Test Pilot and Director of Flight Operations. He personally invented aircraft systems that are the standard for all contemporary military and emerging civil aircraft. As a pilot at Douglas Aircraft, he flew F-3H Demons and F-101 Voodoo's. He attended the Navy Test Pilot School while at McDonnell and when he returned participated in the F-4 Phantom development program. Along with the F-4 tests, he helped develop the F-15 Eagle and did the spin tests on the aircraft earning the Society of Experimental Test Pilot "Pilot of the Year" in 1975. The Eagle flew at twice the speed of sound and took off in 200 feet pointing its nose straight up and accelerated to the speed of sound vertically. He acquired unique expertise and experience with unqueried analysis doing these F-15 spin tests and went on to participate in the design and spinning of many contemporary fighter planes. For example, Jack planned and executed significant testing programs for the F-18 and AV-8B Harrier fighters. Jack undertook the maiden flight of the first F-18 Hornet at Lambert Field, St. Louis on November 18, 1978. He was promoted to Chief Test Pilot in 1962. Jack retired from McDonnell Douglas in 1985 having flown fighters continuously for over 30 years.
Jack served our nation for thirteen years as an Air Force and Air National Guard combat ready fighter pilot, test pilot, nuclear weapons expert and operational leader. He was an Air Force fighter pilot from 1952 to 1956 and saw combat in Korea. He was a fighter pilot with the Air National Guard until 1966. He was proud of our country and often wore a United States flag pin in his lapel. In 1989, Jack formed Krings Corporation, a consulting firm in Austin, Texas which had clients that included key executives in the Department of Defense, most prime defense contractors, the FAA and NASA. Since 1989, he has provided expertise ranging from acquisition reform strategy, corporate re-engineering and technical systems develop to test and evaluation integration. With the transformation of our National Defense, Jack became a much sought after consultant with Missile Defense, Information Security, Homeland Defense, and Joint Program Policies and Management. His focus also expanded to include Information Assurance, a critical element in the escalating challenge of cyber-terrorism.
Throughout his life and career, Jack was a man of continuous learning and achieving. His awards and achievements include: Pilot Training – US Air Force; Indiana Air National Guard; Missouri National Guard; US Naval Test Pilot School; F-84 Combat Crew Air Force Training; Pilot US Air Force; Society of Experimental Test Pilots and received the Jimmy H. Doolittle Award for Outstanding Professional Accomplishment in Aerospace, The Iven C Kincheloe Award, and the Ray E. Tenhoff Award for Presentation of the Most Outstanding Paper. He was presented twice with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
Jack was born in Pittsburgh in 1930 and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1948. Upon receiving a football scholarship, Jack attended Louisiana State University and graduated in 1952 with a B.S. in Chemistry and Physics and a minor in Math.
Jack was loved, respected and admired by many friends, business associates and family members. He was a humble man of great dignity, courtesy and manners and always a delight to be with. He was a warm, engaging gentleman who had a wonderful perspective on life, had great knowledge and wisdom to share. In the words of one friend, "Jack inspired us all to continue to open doors into larger rooms and not smaller." Another friend has written, "I have never met a greater patriot, nor one who has such eminently practical ideas about how to get things done well. In my opinion, our nation will not soon see another public servant who is his equal." And from another, "I was always uplifted by his kindness and encouragement."
Jack is survived by his wife of 27 years, Barbara, and his sons, Kent, Kirk and Joseph Kerry.
Jack was preceded in death by his daughter, Karen, in April 2006.
A visitation and reception for Jack will be from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Sunday, March 16, 2014 at Cook Walden/Forest Oaks Funeral Home, located at 6300 W. William Cannon Drive in Austin, Texas. Funeral service will immediately follow at 3:00 p.m. The Celebration of Jack's life will conclude at a graveside ceremony with full military honors under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force. Those who know Jack will continue to celebrate his life long after this ceremony.
Honoring Jack as pallbearers will be Jason McKemie, Jim McKemie, John McKemie, Andy McKemie, Johnny Palmer, Murray Francois, and Joe Kerry Krings.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in memory of Jack to the Leukemia Society, South Central Texas Austin Chapter, 8001 Centre Park Drive, Ste 150, Austin, Texas 78754, (512) 491-6610 or by visiting www.lls.org.