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Lt Col. Jesse S. Raybourn

Died: 7/21/2011

Lt. Col. Jesse S. Raybourn (USA, Ret.), age 86, of Exton, PA, formerly of Newark, DE, and Clovis, NM, passed away on Thursday, July 21, 2011, at Christiana Hospital in Newark, surrounded by his family.

Born in Clovis on September 4, 1924, Lt. Col. Raybourn was the son of the late Claud Raybourn and Mary Elizabeth Mayes Raybourn and was one of seven children raised on a ranch outside of town. Upon graduation from Clovis High, Jesse was offered a football scholarship to the University of New Mexico.

But like so many fine men of the Greatest Generation, seventeen-year-old Jesse instead enlisted in the US Army Air Corps to serve his country during World War II. As a gunner and radio operator aboard the famed B-17 Flying Fortress, Jesse and his crew flew 51 missions in their beloved plane, The Sandman. Part of the 15th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, The Sandman raided strategic transportation targets in Italy and southern Europe. Jesse later risked daring shuttle missions to free Russia and flew as part of the bomb group targeting the Nazis eastern front during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Following World War II, Jesse remained in the military and served in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He retired from his distinguished military career as the US Armys military advisor to the Delaware National Guard in 1967 after serving for 26 years.

Jesse began his next career in Newark, DE, as the vice president of the Produce Marketing Association, where he worked for 18 years before retiring in 1984. He was well known in the local community as a 50-yard line season ticket holder for the University of Delaware varsity football program and was a familiar figure among the fans in the stands each year. He was also an almost scratch golfer and longtime member of the Newark Country Club where he enjoyed duffing and dancing for many years.

He was active in the Masonic order throughout his life and was a senior member of the Scottish Rite. He and his family were also members of the Newark United Methodist Church for almost half a century. Jesse was a fine artist, champion poker player, family fudge maker, and pool shark.

Despite his brave feats in the defense of liberty and his many fine talents, Lt. Col. Raybourns proudest accomplishment was his close-knit family, including his wife of 70 years, Nita Mae Walker Raybourn; son, Michael Raybourn; daughter, Susan Raybourn Klein (Irving); daughter, Laura Raybourn (William Kownurko); grandchildren, Ben (Barb), Adam, Alix, and Noelle; great grandchildren, Vanessa, Sarina, Addi, and Jilli; niece, Claudia; and nephews, Randy and Bobby.

In May of 2003, Lt. Col. Raybourn flew his final official mission. The governments of the United States and Russia celebrated the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Poltava, Russia, which marked the end of the Russian involvement in World War II. Lt. Col. Raybourn was flown to Moscow to be part of the commemorative celebration in Red Square where he was honored by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A celebration on United States soil was held at the Russian Embassy and at the World War II Memorial where Lt. Col. Raybourn was honored by then President George W. Bush.

A funeral service will be held at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, August 2, 2011, at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE, where visitation will begin at 10 am. Interment with full military honors will follow at 2 pm in Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, DE. Limited transportation to and from the cemetery will be available.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Lt. Col. Raybourn may be made to the Alzheimers Resident Enrichment Fund at Exton Senior Living, 600 N. Pottstown Pike, Exton, PA 19341; or to the University of Delaware Athletic Fund/Football, 631 S. College Avenue, Newark, DE 19716 (

To sign guest book, visit SPICER-MULLIKIN FUNERAL HOMES & CREMATORY 302-328-2213

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