Joseph Otis Bunting Jr, 85 (Col. USAF, Ret), of Alexandria, VA, passed away on Wednesday November 7, 2018. The son of Joseph O. Bunting and Thelma Forrest Bunting of Poquoson, VA, he attended Poquoson High School where he met and fell in love with Catherine “Cathy” Gillikin, whom he married on December 23, 1950.
Known also as “Otis”, Joe attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where he served in the Corps of Cadets and played trumpet in the Highty-Tighties, the Regimental Band. Cathy worked and supported Joe’s studies until he graduated with a B. S. degree in Electrical Engineering. Following a brief tenure working for RCA, Joe was called to active duty in the US Air Force in 1954.
During his USAF career he managed guidance systems programs in support of Mercury rocket launches; he attended Squadron Officer’s School where he was trained as a Navigator and Bombardier; he was assigned to the Strategic Air Command and served on a B-52 flight crew bearing nuclear weapons during the Cold War; he attended Air Command and Staff College and received an MBA from George Washington University; he served several rotations flying B-47 combat missions in the Vietnam War, where he was awarded numerous medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross twice, for Heroism and for Extraordinary Achievement, as well as the USAF Air Medal; and he served as a Systems Program Manager at Andrews AFB and USAF HQ at the Pentagon, where he supported the development of the B-1 Bomber. In all, Joe served 22 years in the Air Force before retiring in 1976. Joe was selected as a Charter Member of the Senior Executive Service, where he served as a Program Manager and Division Chief at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. After retiring from civil service, Joe worked at SAIC as Program Manager and Assistant Vice President.
Joe was a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. He took great joy in his life with Cathy as together they pursued many hobbies. Significant among them was the small orchard they started in Poquoson so they could be present to Joe’s widowed mother. They frequently made the 3-hour trip from their home in Alexandria to work weekends at the orchard, and Cathy then spent much of the following week making pies, preserves and jams they enjoyed sharing with friends and family. Joe was active in his children’s lives, including coaching and cheering their sports teams. Later he enjoyed being a grandfather to his three grandsons.
Joe was preceded in death by his beloved wife Cathy, as well as by his parents. He is survived by his daughter, Cynthia L. Bunting of Fairfax, VA; by his son Joseph O. Bunting III of Aldie, VA and his wife Denise; and by his sister Judy Bunting Sharman of Stuart, FL. He also leaves behind three adoring grandsons: William E. Bunting of San Francisco, CA and his wife Yumi; Michael D. Bunting of Austin, TX and his wife Breanna; and Steven J. Bunting of San Francisco, CA; and many wonderful nieces, nephews and cousins.
Burial at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors will take place at a later date.