Jerry MacKay

April 7, 1936 -- August 11, 2017

RADM Gerald W. MacKay, USN (Ret)

San Carlos

Rear Admiral Gerald Wallace MacKay, USN Ret. passed away peacefully at his home in San Carlos, his wife Linda, at his side.

Jerry was born in Truro, Nova Scotia Canada, moving to Boston at age 8. There he attended Boston Technical H.S. After graduation he joined the United States Navy Reserve Submarine Service. At age 20 he was commissioned an Ensign and designated as a Naval Aviator at Hutchinson Kansas, October 16, 1956.
RADM MacKay flew multiple aircraft while performing Anti-Submarine and Patrol missions amassing over 4500 flight hours flying P-2V and P-3 aircraft over the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

His first duty assignment was with Patrol Squadron Sixteen flying the P-2 Neptune. Here he qualified as a Patrol Plane Commander while serving as Avionics Officer as well as Air Intelligence Officer. Deployments were to Iceland, Africa and Newfoundland. In 1959, MacKay reported to Naval Air Development at South Weymouth, Massachusetts where he served as a Research and Development Project Officer. He then worked at Grumman Aircraft as an aircraft acceptance test pilot. Next he was ordered to the aircraft carrier Lake Champlain and received his qualification as Officer of the Deck Underway. In June 1967, Jerry joined Patrol Squadron Thirty-One first as Operations Officer and then as Training Officer.

RADM Mackay held Command of six aviation organizations during his distinguished Naval career including Patrol Squadron Six, Patrol Squadron Thirty-One, Commander Patrol Wing One/ Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Seventh Fleet/ CTF 72, Commander Patrol Wings Pacific, and Commander of U S Naval Forces Japan. He considered his coordination of the sea rescue of thousands of refugees fleeing Vietnam to be one of his greatest accomplishments. Jerry's final Navy assignment was as Deputy Comptroller of the Navy.

RADM MacKay's military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Navy Commendation Medals, Navy Achievement Medal, the Navy Expeditionary medal and the Vietnam Service Medal. He was honored in Japan and Korea with the Second Class Medal of the Sacred Treasure, and the Third Class Medal of the Rising Sun and the Order of National Security Merit, respectively. His Navy career spanned thirty-two years, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.

Jerry retired from the Navy in 1986 in San Carlos, CA. He then began his career in the electronics industry. He closed out his civilian career as President of Advent Systems in 2005. Jerry was an active member of the Fellowship Forum, the Naval Order of the United States, the Association of Naval Aviation, the Coyote Point Yacht Club, the St. Andrews Society, and the Sons in Retirement (SIR).

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Linda Seaton of Richland Washington. Our family includes the Patricia Ford family, the Finnegan family, the Seaton family and the Henton family. We would also like to acknowledge our extended families: the Havens, Stamms, Sullivans and Castros.

A funeral mass will be held at St. Charles Catholic Church, San Carlos CA on Thursday, September 21st, 4:00 pm. Military honors for Admiral MacKay will be conducted at Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery, Friday September 22nd at 10:00, 22555 Cristo Rey Drive, Los Altos, CA.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Doctors Without Borders, or the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Pensacola, Florida.

Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Aug. 20, 2017

Eulogy for Rear Adm. (ret.) G.W. “Jerry” MacKay, U.S. Navy
By ADM Harry Harris | U.S. Pacific Command | September 22, 2017

Adm. Harry Harris
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

Eulogy for Rear Adm. (ret.) G.W. “Jerry” MacKay, U.S. Navy
San Carlos, California
September 21, 2017
As Delivered

Members of the MacKay and their extended families, including the Fords, Finnegans, Seatons, Hentons, Havens, Stamms, Sullivans, Cibocis, and Castros.

Friends of the MacKays, including Ambassador Priscilla Clapp, Mr. Nathan Vaniman, Admiral Tom Brown, and so many others.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's no exaggeration for me to say that I stand here before you, in the uniform of a 4-star Admiral in the U.S. Navy, due in largest measure to Rear Admiral Jerry MacKay.

How does one take the measure of a man who lived a truly remarkable life; a man who accomplished truly incredible things; a man who roamed the planet as if it were his own backyard; a warrior who defended his country in war and peace? This is, indeed, a daunting challenge.

So let me begin today as we gather here in this holy place to celebrate the life of an incomparable man. A Naval Aviator, Vietnam veteran, a brilliant strategist, corporate leader, and Flag officer. A man who loved peace as only those who have been surrounded by war and chaos can. A global citizen and a proud American.

Today, we celebrate the life of a legendary man who counted among his countless friends heads of militaries from around the world, diplomats of the highest rank, and captains of industry. His friends and colleagues included our Nation's leading lights in the national security arenas, as well as peacemakers and warlords and men and women who live lives on the dangerous edge of things.

Today we celebrate the life of a radical man, a son of Canada, a man who served and rose to prominence in the most conservative and tradition-steeped of the armed services – yet a man who gave of himself and his treasure in his quest for greater diversity, equality, fairness and opportunity for all Americans.

Today we celebrate the life of a truly gallant gentleman, a man who loved his beautiful Linda with all his heart and soul, and who was loved in turn by her.

Will Rogers once said, “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand by on the curb and clap as they go by.”

Today, we all get to stand here as one of those heroes passes by.

G.W. "Jerry" MacKay indeed lived a life in full. Born in Nova Scotia, he moved to the U.S., grew up during World War II, and graduated from the legendary Boston Technical High School – now known as the the John D. O'Bryant School of Math and Science. He enlisted in the Navy, but his brainpower and technical smarts made him stand out and he became a Naval Aviation Cadet, or NAVCAD – a program where you were sent to flight school and, if you were good enough to earn your Wings of Gold, you got a commission, too. A college degree was not a requirement. So he was only 20 years old when he was commissioned – an age where his contemporaries from the Academy or ROTC were still in college and several years away their own wings. Admiral MacKay was always a self-starter and well ahead of the power curve.

Now the Admiral got his wings in 1956, just when the Cold War was really taking off. He chose to fly Maritime Patrol – first in the P-2 Neptune then the mighty P-3 Orion – specializing in anti-submarine warfare. Which is to say in those days, anti-Soviet warfare.

He was incredibly successful in both airmanship and leadership and he rose up through the ranks to command the Blue Sharks of VP-6 in Hawaii, the Black Lightnings of VP-31 here in Moffett Field, and Patrol Wing One in Japan.

Along the way, he was a project officer for NavAir, an acceptance test pilot at Grumann, ship's company on the aircraft carrier LAKE CHAMPLAIN, and a Joint Chiefs of Staff planner on the Navy Staff in the Pentagon – skill sets that would serve him well down range.

In the long and difficult campaigns of the Cold War – a struggle that culminated in the victory of democracy over communism, of freedom over oppression, of thoroughfares and gateways over blockades and barricades – Admiral MacKay figured prominently.

Selected for Flag Officer in 1980, he was assigned as the commander of the Navy's West Coast Patrol Wings here at Moffett, then, in 1982 to U.S. Naval Forces Japan in Yokosuka. This is where I first entered his expansive orbit when I was assigned as his Aide. I was then a brash, young Lieutenant fresh from my first squadron tour. And I was full of myself – not a man in full.

Admiral MacKay taught me how to broaden my thinking to embrace technology and innovation, to navigate the dangerous shoal waters of international affairs, and to think boldly and critically. He taught me that integrity, accountability, and reputation were worth more than promotion, medals, and treasure – in fact, they counted for everything.

I watched as he conducted complex negotiations with the Japanese over the future of our alliance. I watched as he managed the Navy's response to the Soviet-shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Sea of Japan. And I watched as he expertly finessed the demands from Washington, the imperatives from Honolulu, and the petitions from Tokyo. I felt as if I was getting a Ph.D in international relations, negotiations theory, and balance-of-power politics. I learned to operate in the rarefied air of Flag officer business. All skill sets that would serve me well down-range.

Throughout my career, especially at those junctions where the flight plan was cloudy – where certain turbulence and hidden wind shears awaited any bad decision I might make – Admiral MacKay was there for me and he always gave me the right steer to keep me on glide path.

And here I stand before you today – a MacKay-trained man and proud of it.

Admiral MacKay was, indeed, a man fully in the moment, a force of nature if there ever was one. And he acquired a well-deserved reputation for being an exacting pilot, a tough taskmaster, and a skilled negotiator.

Of course, his most successful negotiation was when he charmed a daughter of the Pacific Northwest. He met, then wooed, Linda Seaton and they were married in 1968 – 49 years of adventure, glamor, and love.

A true renaissance man, Admiral MacKay was an accomplished gear head with a string of fabulous vehicles including an MGTD, a boat-tailed Riviera, and a classic Beetle that ran and looked better than it did coming out of the showroom. He and Linda owned a gorgeous Chris Craft which they kept at Coyote Point Yacht Club and named "At Ease" – an oxymoron if there ever was one.

After the Navy he was a leader in a succession of companies in the electronics industry, including Dalmo Victor, Singer Link, Litton and finally, as president of Advent Systems.

He was a Sailor, pilot, diplomat, corporate leader and, always, mentor, friend, and patriot. Indeed, throughout his uncommon life, Admiral MacKay was always there for his country, his family, his friends, and his Navy. Fiercely loyal, he was a man of rare accomplishment, even rarer ability and, rarest of all – a man of conspicuous integrity.   

His legacy, however, lies not in the landings he made, the submarines he chased, and even the organizations he commanded. Rather, his legacy lies in the men and women he taught and molded and led – and in the indomitable spirit of America he epitomized.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I believe Admiral MacKay's spirit moves about us today, reminding us that courage, commitment, intelligence, integrity, and love transcend death, and that dreams are worth striving for. Jerry MacKay spent a good portion of his life preparing future leaders in America for the vicissitudes of peace and the uncertainties that await us in the global commons.

I for one will forever be indebted to him. I'll never forget him. And I already miss him.

Samuel Johnson said, “It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.”

Admiral MacKay lived life to the fullest. He was the best of us. Thank you, Admiral. I look forward to the day when I'll be your aide again on the other side of the rainbow. May God keep you and may God bless Linda and the Navy and Nation you loved.

Tributes from fellow members of Fellowship Forum

I have sad information.  Jerry MacKay passed away this morning at 2:45 AM.  He was a good friend and great company.  His final words to me and to the FF members was "Fair Winds and Following Seas."  Whenever I think of this phase I will think of Jerry.

Phil Marewsca
FF President


This is a real loss in so many ways. Jerry served as Forum president for so many years that we were able to kid him about it. His service on committees was exemplary, and of course his friendship was something to be treasured. So sorry to hear of this loss.

Andy Doty 


Very sad.  Jerry was a real mensch, a natural leader who led by example and by bringing out the best in everyone. The whole Fellowship Forum will feel his loss for a long time. Our condolences to Linda. 

Mark Barchas


I second all the praise that have been expressed by Andy and Mark. Jerry represented the best of the Forum. His warmth and brilliance radiated all the time, the latter with humility. He went out of his way to welcome me to the Forum, and I've tried to do the same with new members.

We wont see the like of Jerry anytime soon. He was special in so many way, and all the while humble and making you feel that you were the most important person in the world when he was speaking to you. What a talent! He will be sorely missed by every Fellow who had the chance to get to know him.

Hugh Burroughs


Unlike many of you who had the chance to know Jerry better and for more years than I, I have only known him briefly.  My main contact came from being on the Membership Committee with him for 2 years.  He was one impressive Dude! 

As I was adjusting to being on that committee and trying to understand how things worked, I quickly saw that Jerry was a dedicated keeper of the traditions of The Forum.  He had been a party to creation of many of our current processes and by-laws (I'm still not entirely clear on his entire contribution in this regard, but I am confident it was substantial), and he was obviously determined to be sure those accomplishments 1) were clearly understood, 2) the background for those achievements were clear, 3) the rules and procedures were to be followed for the good of all unless there was convincing reason to do otherwise.  He was an obvious leader with strong, determined, and persuasive opinions and reasoning.  He was instantly a man of deep thought, strong convictions, and a willingness to represent his convictions with vigor.  I was highly impressed.

When he let it be known that his cancer had recurred and no treatment was possible, it hit me hard in spite of my knowing him only peripherally.  I am forever glad that I was able to express a few times to him my concerns for his health...and I was amazed in a way that this man of many talents and much experience in the world and The Forum was quite gracious in accepting this newbie's concerns and even taking time to discuss them with me.  In a way, by doing so, he welcomed me into true, deep membership in The Forum; he made me feel like I truly belonged.  I will never forget that graciousness. 

Jerry was a major contributor to our organization and to the world at large.  It is often said about those who have died that they will be always missed.  I think it is 100% safe to say that in Jerry's case, that statement will be literally true.  I -- and I expect all of us -- will greatly and always miss him.

David Morrison


I will always remember the first time I met Jerry.  Fritz introduced us when I attended my first FF meeting as a guest of Fritz.  Jerry was heading up the membership committee and Fritz wanted to make sure I sat with Jerry so I could get to know him and he me.  It was an incredible experience because I immediately felt like I had known Jerry for a long time.  He treated me like an old friend.  We laughed our way thru lunch and I could see that Jerry had a terrific sense of humor.  That warmth that he displayed to me that day cemented my decision to join FF.  I have never regretted it for a second.  Jerry was our alpha male in the group and whenever he was not present for a meeting he was missed.  We love you, Jerry!

Dan Zemanek


I had a similar experience. He was very complimentary about my presentations to FF and always willing to explain military issues that I asked him about. He had a special gift.

William Eaglstein


Jerry was a truly remarkable man and friend.

John Davis







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