Bruce R. Groesbeck Jr.

Jan 25, 2013 Staff

Bruce R. Groesbeck Jr. died Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, surrounded by his children. He was 95 years old.

Services will be at noon Saturday, Jan. 26, at Basham Funeral Care in Bakersfield, Calif., immediately followed by a graveside service at Hillcrest Memorial Cemetery.

Bruce Robert Groesbeck Jr., "Neetesee'eit Ohunoo" (Eagle Flying), was born Sept. 7, 1917, on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

He was a career Air Force pilot with 30 years of service, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He accumulated more than 10,000 flight hours, including more than 650 combat flight hours in 28 different types of aircraft. His flying career began in the Islands of the South Pacific in World War II.

Following the end of WWII, he flew B-29 bombers with the famed 509th Bomb Wing. It was a B-29 from the 509th that ended WWII, bringing the United States into the Atomic Age. Later, as part of elite, hand-picked crews from throughout the Strategic Air Command, Mr. Groesbeck piloted the B-58 Hustler in the 43rd Bombardment Wing. The B-58 was the most advanced, supersonic bomber of its time. At over Mach 2, the B-58 set three separate speed records, including the Bendix Trophy and Mackay Trophy in 1962.

His family said Mr. Groesbeck was truly part of "The Greatest Generation," of which there are few remaining.

He is survived by his brother, Felix Groesbeck; son Bruce Robert Groesbeck III; daughters Carolyn Makil, Susan Groesbeck, Linda Mikkelson and Patty Wade; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and Aldo Toledo.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Wanda Groesbeck.

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