CAPT John “Jack” Patrick Costello II, USN (Ret.)



ENS Costello became a Naval Aviator on November 24, 1965 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. ENS Costello was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-8140.

LTJG Costello, as the Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC) of an HS-8, SH-3A Helicopter, received the Silver Star for the combat rescue of Frank Pendergast of RVAH-13 off the coast of North VietNam, 9 March 1967. The RA-5C from RVAH-13 was off the USS Kitty Hawk.  It was doing a recce run just inland down the North VietNam coast, escorted by a VF-213 Phantom when the Viggie was hit by ground fire.  The crew ejected and landed in a shallow water/sand bar area where crew was soon captured.  When the SAR assets, including a HS-8 H-3 appeared, the RAN pulled out a hidden pistol and shot it out with captors.  The pilot (XO) Charles Putnam was killed.  His body was recovered in 1988.  The “RAN” LTJG Frank Pendergast was rescued by the HS-8 Seaking crew and later awarded the Navy Cross.

Captain John “Jack” Patrick Costello II, U.S. Navy (Ret.) passed away March 6, 2024, surrounded by loving family keeping vigil. He was an adoring husband, loving father and grandfather, and great man to have by your side in any sort of trouble.

Jack was born in Chicago, IL on July 12, 1940, to the late John Patrick and Bernadette “Bunny” Costello. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister Mary Laura Lou Peterson.

Capt. Costello was a 1964 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Direct from USNA he attended Naval Flight School in Pensacola, FL and became a naval aviator. Serving two tours in the Vietnam War he earned a Silver Star for daring helicopter rescues of downed pilots. Jack went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, CA, and later attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD, where he tested most of the current military and civilian helicopters as well as several fixed wing aircraft, totaling thirty-three aircraft during his service. Subsequently he became a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Jack served 26 years active duty as a helicopter and test pilot before retiring in 1990. Following retirement, he worked in the defense aerospace industry with an extended tour in Australia that was a great adventure for Jack and Connie. He is survived by his beloved wife Connie of 59 years; children Laura (Clement Geitner), Sean and Casey; granddaughters Ryan, Emma Claire and Adeleine Geitner; sister Susan Dunne; nieces Julie Dunne, Jennifer Coleman, Janine Dunne, Colleen Lamond. Funeral mass will be held at St. Thomas a Becket Catholic Church, 1421 Wiehle Ave., Reston, VA on Friday, March 15 at 11 a.m.

Fair Winds and Following Seas!

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Published by The Washington Post on Mar. 13, 2024.