Air Force Chaplain Col. John G. Truitt Jr.January 04, 2014
Air Force Chaplain Col. John G. Truitt Jr. (retired) of 111 East Trollinger St., Elon, died at 4:25 a.m. Saturday, January 4 at the Hospice Home in Burlington after a lengthy illness. He was 81 years of age.
Col. Truitt was a veteran of 26 years in the United States Air Force including service during the Vietnam War. After leaving the Air Force in 1987 he returned to Elon and lived directly across from Elon University where he became a well-known and popular supporter of the university, especially in athletics.
The son of the late Dr. John G. Truitt and Adelia Jones Truitt, he was born in 1932 in Dayton, Ohio, and lived his early years in Suffolk, Va. where his father was minister of Suffolk Christian Church. His father later became superintendent of the Elon Orphanage, and Col. Truitt came here to attend Elon College continuing a family tradition of studying there.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dolores Hagan Truitt of the home; a daughter, Melinda Leigh Truitt of Raleigh; one granddaughter, Kristin Louise Reinheimer of New York City; one grandson, Christopher Truitt Reinheimer, a senior at Florida State University; and a sister, Ann T. Herbert of Tampa, Florida.
Col. Truitt and his wife met when both were cheerleaders at Elon College where he graduated in 1953. While still a student he was the founder and first pastor of Lakeview Community Church in northern Alamance County.
After graduation he became pastor of Brookside Community Church in Brookside, N. J. while he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N. J. and then at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where graduated in 1958.
He was ordained in 1958 and was pastor of Congregational Christian Church in Chesapeake, Va., from then until 1961 when he decided to enter the chaplaincy in the United States Air Force.
His distinguished career of 26 years included assignments and responsibilities at the following bases: Greenville Air Force Base, Greenville, MS; Air Force site chaplain, Pforzheim, Germany; staff chaplain at Norton Air Force Base, San Bernadino, CA; protestant chaplain at Guy Hoa, Vietnam; flight line chaplain at Homestead Air Force Base, Homestead, FLA.; Air Command and Staff College, Montgomery, ALA (one of only two chaplains selected to attend this school); installation chaplain at Iraklion Air Force Station, Crete; ATC Command Chaplain’s Office, chief of plans and programs, Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX; Armed Forces War College graduate; TAC Command Chaplain’s office, chief of readiness and mobility, Langley Air Force Base, Hampton VA; installation chaplain at Kadena AFB, Okinawa; Chief Chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC; and Chief of Chaplain’s Office, Washington DC.
During his duty he received the Legion of Merit, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Vietnam Gallentry Cross. Col. Truitt also received The Choung My Medal, a unique Vietnamese medal from the president of South Vietnam for humanitarian acts. He was one of only two U.S. chaplains to ever receive that medal.
Twice he was named Young Chaplain of the year by his commands – in 1968 by the 7th Air Force in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam and by the Tactical Air Command in Homestead, Fla.
Upon retirement he became a member of Salem Presbytery and served interim pastorates at Crossroads Presbyterian, Graham Presbyterian, Starmount Presbyterian and St. Paul’s Presbyterian both in Greensboro, Bethel Presbyterian, Speedwell Presbyterian and Dogwood Acres Presbyterian.
Also in retirement motorcycles became an avid interest for him. In a span of four years he rode his bike in all 48 states in the continental U.S.
He slowed his church work to pastoral care and worked in that capacity at First Presbyterian in Greensboro. However, he did work with LabCorp and drove the first tram on the Elon University campus. He also did volunteer work for the university and served two terms on the Alamance County Planning Board.
In retirement he and Dolores were active participants in a host of activities at Elon University. They were especially visible at all major athletic events for the past 26 years. John was honored as an outstanding alumni by the Elon Alumni Association, and in 2012 he and Dolores were presented the Elon Medallion, the highest award given by the university for service. He served on the Elon Alumni Board and as co-chair with Dolores of the Golden Alumni Board.
He was also an active member of his church, Elon Community Church, United Church of Christ, where he had served as moderator and as a member of various church committees.
A service of celebration will be held at Elon Community Church where he was a member on Monday, January 6 at 2 p.m. A private burial with full military honors will be held in the chapel on Chaplain’s Hill at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC.
The family will be at Rich & Thompson Mortuary in Burlington Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m.
Memorials may be made to the Truitt-Hagan Endowed Scholarship, Elon University, Campus Box 2500, Elon NC, 27244 or to the Elon Community Church, Post Office Box 625, Elon NC, 27244.