Joseph P. Cribbins
United States of America
Joseph P. Cribbins was a former steeplechase jockey who served in an Army horse cavalry division during World War II and spent the last 35 years as an expert in Army air cavalry safety and logistics. When he was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 1980, the citation read, "There is no individual who has had as much influence and long term impact on Army Aviation logistics as Joseph P. Cribbins."
Born to a horse groomer of Long Island estates, he was a professional steeplechase jockey, and horse trainer from 1931 to 1940, but a harness racing accident, which hospitalized him for months, ended his career. He then enlisted in the Army as a stable sergeant in the 101st Cavalry Division. He went with the division to the South Pacific and later served on General Douglas MacArthur's staff working in air transportation. Following the war, he worked for Delta Airlines and owned and operated a ranch in Nevada. Recalled to active duty in 1951 during the Korean War, he arranged flights for military personnel coming and going to the conflict. He retired from active duty in 1966 as a lieutenant colonel and joined the Army department as a civilian.
In that capacity, he played a major role in founding the aviation logistics office, which oversaw acquisition, research and development, production, distribution, as well as maintenance and supply activities. He became a much-decorated member of the Senior Executive Service before stepping down in 1992 as Army Department's Chief of aviation safety and logistics. Then at age 78, he was hired by DynCorp and at his death was special assistant to the president and chief executive for safety and aviation logistics.
His work ethic was inspirational. He typically rose at 4:30 a.m., arrived at work about 6:00 a.m., leaving for home late at 8:00 in the evening. He could be self-deprecating in public, saying "No one much says anything bad about me anymore. It's because I have outlived all my enemies..." His decorations included two awards of the Legion of Merit, three awards of the Bronze Star, and the Army Commendation Medal. Among his numerous civilian awards were the Defense Department Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Presidential Rank Award for distinguished executive in the Senior Executive Service. In 1992, he was awarded the AAAA's Order of St. Michael Gold Medal and the AHS Harry T. Jensen Award.
Joseph P. Cribbins died June 14, 2002, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.
AHS Update: Vertiflite Fall 2002