Walter Charles Vitunac, Col., USAF Ret.
October 08, 1919 - November 27, 2011
Walter Charles Vitunac, Col., USAF, Ret.
Walter Charles Vitunac , Col. USAF, Ret. of Fort Pierce, Florida died Sunday, November 27, 2011, at age 92. Col. Vitunac was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 8, 1919, was graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, and then joined the Army Air Corps. His first assignment was at Hickam Field, Hawaii, where from a small fishing boat he witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor and was strafed by one of the attacking fighters. Lt. Vitunac became a navigator, flying B-17s for the next two years in the South Pacific, and participated in the Battle of Midway and the Solomon Islands Campaign. In one highly classified mission, Lt. Vitunac was chosen to be the navigator on a B-17 taking Admiral Bull Halsey on a reconnaissance flight. Lt. Vitunac flew more than 50 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal with Clusters. After the war Capt. Vitunac became an instructor navigator in El Paso, Texas, where he met his future wife, Lace, a graduate of the University of Texas – El Paso and a journalist for the El Paso Herald Post. After receiving a Masters Degree in Foreign Affairs Col. Vitunac began a post-war career in the Military Intelligence Services which took him to Europe and Japan and various U.S. assignments. He became Commander of the 6499th Support Group at Johnson Air Base in Japan. His last assignment was Commander of Cape Kennedy Air Force Station during the Apollo missions, which included the Apollo 11 moon landing. In retirement Col. Vitunac worked in real estate becoming the President of the Fort Pierce Board of Realtors, and became a founding member of the Conservation Alliance of Saint Lucie County.
Col. Vitunac is survived by his wife of 68 years, Lace, and three children, Karen L. Martin, Circuit Judge in Palm Beach County, Ann Vitunac, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Florida, her husband, Anthony Yanketis, a retired FBI agent, Charles Vitunac, retired City Attorney for the City of Vero Beach, Florida, his wife Suzanne, retired environmental attorney, and four grandchildren, Jessica Gabbard, Caroline Gabbard, Douglas Vitunac, and Andrea Vitunac Langstroth.
Friends may call from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2011 at Yates Funeral Chapel, Port Saint Lucie with the Funeral Service starting at 2:00 p.m., followed by a reception at the Yates Funeral Chapel. Col. Vitunac will be buried with Full Military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery, February 29, 2012 at 10:45 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Conservation Alliance of Saint Lucie County, P.O. Box 12515, Fort Pierce, Florida 34979-2515.
Visitation: Map to Port St. Lucie Funeral Home