Captain William Dale “Bud” Pocklington, USN (Ret.) former Commanding Officer of HC-1, passed away on February 22, 2019 at Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, California. He was born in Lake County, Ill, the fourth son of seven boys of William and Hilda Pocklington. Bud set the example for the rest of the family by being the first high school and college graduate in the family. Graduating from Zion High School, Bud was encouraged to enlist in the Navy by his high school football coach who was the Commanding Officer of the Navy Air Reserve Squadron at NAS Great Lakes, Ill. While in college, he was an Aviation Storekeeper Petty Officer in the Naval Reserve. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Economics from Whitworth College in 1955. After being commissioned an Ensign in 1956, and while awaiting orders to flight school, he was assigned as the Air Intelligence Officer at NAS Los Alamitos in Long Beach, California. Bud received his wings in November 1959 at Corpus Christi, Texas.

His first squadron was Airborne Early Warning Barrier Squadron Pacific (AEWBARRONPAC) on Midway Island where he was trained in the Lockheed EC-121 Super Constellation (called the Willy Victor). At the completion of this tour, Bud requested assignment to helicopters. CAPT Pocklington received his Navy helicopter designation at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field in Pensacola, Florida on April 19, 1961 as Navy Helicopter Designator Number 5558. His first helicopter tour was in HS-4 where he made two Western Pacific deployments aboard the anti-submarine carrier USS Yorktown flying the HSS-1N, the first helicopter equipped for night instrument anti-submarine warfare operations. Bud’s other squadron assignments at NAS Ream Field in Imperial Beach, California included HS-2, HS-4 and HS-10 flying the SH-3A, D and F.

In March of 1967, Bud reported to the United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam in Saigon where he was assigned to Plans and Special Projects in the Joint Operations Division of the Combat Operations Center. He served in-country in Vietnam for 12 months including service during the Tet Offensive of 1968, where he was exposed to Agent Orange which would affect him 45 years later and end his life.

After completion of the Senior War College in New Port, Rhode Island, Bud returned to NAS Ream Field to complete his XO/CO tour with HC-1 flying the SH-3G. His command tour at HC-1 included the last open sea astronaut recovery of the final NASA Skylab mission on February 8, 1974. This was also the first time an Apollo splashdown was not broadcast live by television for the world news.

Following his tour at HC-1, Bud was assigned to the Naval Air Systems Command to work on the development of the V-22 Osprey, a multi-mission tilt-rotor aircraft with both Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) and Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities. Rotation to sea duty required Bud to return to DESRON staff duty in San Diego for a tour involving LAMPS (Light Airborne Multipurpose System) helicopter operations.

He was then assigned as the senior aviator at Commander Naval Surface Forces Pacific in charge of combat support for all ASW Pacific commands. CAPT Pocklington earned the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Medal and Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal in addition to various campaign and service awards.  

Bud completed 30 years of naval service, retiring from Commander Naval Air Forces Pacific in 1986. He was elected to public office just 30 days after his retirement as a Board Director on the Irrigation District in conjunction with the Sweetwater Authority Water Board in South Bay San Diego County. His experience and dedicated service resulted in his being re-elected 6 times, completing 28 years of public service to his community. Other boards that he served on during this time included the Local Formation Commission (LAFCO), the San Diego County Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

In 2014, Bud was diagnosed with health issues due to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. He was given an option to have a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) operation which included inserting a 1.3 pound electrical pump inside of his body to assist his heart with blood circulation. The 9 hour LVAD operation took place on January 29, 2019. The successful procedure allowed Bud to live a somewhat comfortable life until 2019 when his heart became weaker and was not able to keep him alive. Bud passed away at Sharp Memorial Hospital where he had the LVAD operation five years earlier.

Services were held at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, California on March 7, 2019. Bud is survived by his wife of 57 years Bess, two sons William and David, two granddaughters Ashley and Taylor and four great grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, please make a gift donation to the Wounded Warriors Project.