Gilbert Bruce Holmes, Jr. – Captain, United States Air Force

Gilbert Bruce Holmes, Jr. was born at Chickasha, Oklahoma, on July 25, 1937, the son of Gilbert Holmes, Sr. (deceased in 1980) and Dorothy L. Holmes (deceased in 1975).  His brother, David F. Holmes, was born on September 2, 1940 in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  David served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army and currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bruce attended school at the Midwest City, Oklahoma, school system, graduating in the first class to graduate from the Del City, Oklahoma, High School. He graduated from the Air Force ROTC program of the University of Oklahoma in 1959 and then entered the United States Air Force in that year, received his training at San Antonio, Texas; Larado Air Force Base, Texas; and Bainbridge Air Force Base, Georgia. He then served at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; George Air Force Base, California; Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa; Korat Air Force Base, Thailand; and McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

Bruce received his regular Air Force commission early in his career. He then served in Vietnam as an advisor in 1965. He began flying missions in an F-105 from Korat Air Force Base in 1965, those being missions over North Vietnam. His best friend, Captain William J. Barthelmas, Jr. (“Bart), was killed-in-action in 1966 and Captain Holmes accompanied his body home for burial in Ohio. Their other friend, Major William Cooper of Georgia, is still listed as missing-in-action from 1966.

Bruce returned to the United States and was assigned to train replacement pilots for the F-105 at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. He and his friends, Captain Jack Redmond and Captain Stanley Rynear, shared living quarters at the Playtime Ranch at Derby, Kansas, not far from the base. On the evening of January 17, 1967 a fire broke out at their quarters. Bruce was sleeping at the time because he was due to fly at 0500 hours. His car was not there because it was in the shop so no one was aware that he was in the quarters. Bruce was killed in the fire, the origin of which was never identified. Redmond was rescued by responding fire units and Rynear was not at home at the time.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal ( 3 awards), Air Force Commendation Medal and many more, including the Vietnam Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Services were conducted for Bruce at both McConnell Air Force Base and Tinker Air Force Base. The Air Force arranged to have Bruce buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Section 53 Site 2940.



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/25/1932
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/17/1967

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