Obituary: Air Commodore Jack Haines RAF (Retd) OBE DL

Air Commodore Jack Haines RAF (Retd) OBE DL. Born 17 October 1945 in Gravesend, Kent. Died: 12 December 2017 in Fife, aged 72.

Air Commodore Jack Haines

Air Commodore Jack Haines has died after a long illness. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 13 years ago.

Born in Gravesend, Kent, he was educated at Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich, Kent where he gained many sports colours in track events, rugby and cricket. He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in July 1964, where he served for 38 years as a navigator flying fast jet aircraft.

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He began his flying career at RAF Leuchars in 1965 where he trained to fly the Javelin before serving on No 64 Squadron at RAF Tengah in Singapore until May 1967. He was then selected for an exchange tour with the Royal Navy, during which he flew Sea Vixens with 892 and 899 Naval Air Squadrons on HMS Hermes and HMS Eagle respectively.

He returned to Leuchars in 1969 on 43 Squadron and began his long association with the much respected Phantom F4. He left Leuchars in 1972 for an exchange tour with the United States Marine Corps in Beaufort. South Carolina. Promoted to Squadron Leader on his return in 1975, he served as the Navigational Radar leader on 23 Squadron at RAF Wattisham until he left the cockpit environment early in 1979 for another exchange tour with the Royal Navy as the Royal Air Force Staff Officer to the Flag Officer. The post involved several months away a sea.

He attended Staff College in 1981 and then, after “flying” the Phantom desk at Headquarters Strike Command, was delighted to return to the front line again at RAF Leuchars in early 1984 as Officer Commanding Operations Wing, a role he held for three years.

Leaving Leuchars at the end of 1987, he then entered the Nato Forum and served in the Operations Division at The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (Shape) in Belgium for another three years.

On promotion to Group Captain he returned to East Anglia to command RAF Neatishead until 1993, when he returned to Nato Headquarters in Brussels as part of the International Military Staff. He was engaged exclusively in the political/military aspects of Nato’s involvement in the tragedy in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Promotion after this tour at the end of 1995 brought the new Air Commodore back to Leuchars for the fourth time to a dual role of Commanding the Station and also The Air Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Tornado fighter had replaced the Phantom and he became fully operational in this new fighter aged 50.

He relinquished the role of Station Commander in October 1998 but remained at Leuchars as the Air Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland until his retirement at the end of 2001.

He began and ended his career at Leuchars and stayed in St Andrews for his retirement. He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant in 2003.

He was a keen and able golfer, Captain and President of RAF Leuchars Golf Club, Captain of Shape Golf Society in Belgium, and a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Sadly, Air Commodore Haines was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2004. When his illness prevented him from actively participating in the sports he enjoyed, he became an avid spectator.

He played an active role in many charities and was Life President of the Royal Airforces Association (Rafa) Leuchars Branch.

During his illness, Air Commodore Haines took part in groundbreaking clinical trials for Alzhiemer’s at the University of Glasgow and supported the Dementia Friendly St Andrews campaign as he wanted to support research and better understanding of the disease. In a final wish, he donated his body to the University of St Andrews.

Throughout his career Air Commodore Haines always saw the person and not the rank. His great ability to communicate with everybody made him a man who touched everyone’s heart.

When Alzheimer’s sadly took away his former eloquence, he still was able to communicate his love and respect for everyone. His cheerful nature, sense of humour, dedication to justice and absolute love of life made him the legend he has become. He was selfless to the end.

Air Commodore Haines is survived by his wife Lesley, their daughters Sally Ann and Vanessa and granddaughters Millie, Maisie, Lottie and Anna May, who will miss their beloved husband, father and Papa Jack, but are so proud that he was part of their lives and lives on through them.

A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will take place on Monday 29 January 2018 at 2pm at St Andrews Episcopal Church Queen’s Gardens, St Andrews.