James Samuel Novy, Jr. – Colonel, United States Air Force

From a contemporary press report:

James Samuel Novy Jr., a retired Air Force Colonel described as a true scholar and a patriot “with a will of iron,” died Friday, 14 May 2004, after a battle with an illness. He was 83.

Novy's life was marked by a distinguished military career that spanned more than three decades and included two combat tours in World War II as a squadron fighter pilot.

Having completed 147 combat missions, the highly decorated Novy was awarded seven Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“I fully believe he was a patriot in everything that he did,” said Novy's daughter, Carol Novy Merritt. “Everything was God and country.”

Perhaps the most significant part of Novy's career was his work with the National Security Agency. His titles, among many, included intelligence research officer, chief of the Russian Air Office, special representative of the Department of Defense in Vietnam, chief national security agency representative to the Department of Defense and deputy group chief for Southeast Asia and the Far East.

Raised in Chicago, Novy retired from the Air Force in 1974 and came to San Antonio.

His wife of 38 years, Marilyn Carter Novy, died in 1996. He also was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Kathleen.

Novy's only living child, Merritt, described her family as small but close-knit.

Other survivors include granddaughters Stephanie and Melissa Merritt and son-in-law Robert Merritt, all of Santa Ana, California; brother-in-law Thomas Jerrell Carter Jr., sister-in-law Carol Carter and niece Jennifer Carter, all of Rockville, Maryland; and nephew Thomas Jerrell Carter III of Austin, Texas.

An avid reader with a thirst for knowledge, Novy completed his doctorate after retirement.

Novy also was involved in several Republican political campaigns, including those of former Governor Bill Clements and former President Reagan.

Novy's daughter happened to be in San Antonio the day her father fell gravely ill. When she had to return to California, her father promised her that he'd still be alive until she came back to Texas.

“He kept his promise,” Merritt said.

Despite his critical condition, Novy hung on for 10 more days until his daughter made her return visit, during which he asked her to read a short biography that would be used for his obituary.

“When I finally finished that, he passed away,” she said.

Novy will be buried with his wife and daughter in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Porter Loring Chapel at 1101 McCullough Ave.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/01/1944 – 07/01/1974
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/23/1920
  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/14/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 07/07/2004

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