Captain Henry “Grady” Perkins, Jr. died of heart failure on August 18. 2019 at the age of 78. He was battling lung disease for several years and was cared for by his loving family. He will be deeply missed.
Perkins was born in New Orleans, LA in 1940 and graduated with honors from Bay High School, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi in 1958, where he lettered in four sports. He studied aeronautical engineering at Mississippi State University from 1958-1960, then entered the US Naval Academy in July 1960 and graduated with the class of 1964, while receiving his commission as an Ensign in the Navy.
He earned his Naval Flight Officer wings in 1965 and initiated his career as an aviator by completing two Vietnam cruises with VAW-114 aboard USS Kitty Hawk, flying the E-2A “Hawkeye.” Other flying assignments included tours as an instructor in the E-2B aircraft in RVAW-110, Operations Officer in VAW-116 aboard USS Nimitz, and Commanding Officer of VAW-114, flying the E-2C on the USS Kitty Hawk. Non-flying assignments included tours at the Armed Forces Staff College, National War College, USS Coral Sea, COMCARGRU SEVEN, and Operations Officer for Commander Naval Striking and Support Forces, Southern Europe in Naples, Italy. His final assignment was Commanding Officer of Tactical Air Control Group One. During this tour, he reported for temporary duty to COMPHIBGRU THREE aboard USS Tarawa, LHA-1, and completed a deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm. Reflecting on his career with family members, he shared that serving in Desert Storm, which included combat operations, and subsequently working on a humanitarian mission to provide relief and aid in the wake of the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh were the most meaningful accomplishments in his distinguished military career.
His military awards include Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal w/Numeral "5," Navy Commendation Medal w/Combat "V," Navy Achievement Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation w/3 Bronze Stars, and numerous theater, allied and campaign ribbons.
Perkins’ peers described him as a “superb Naval officer,” an “exquisite ambassador of the United States and the Navy in particular,” and a “consummate Naval officer.” He loved the United States of America and was proud to serve in the US Navy. He retired in 1992 with the rank of Captain after 28 years of service.
In addition to loving his country, Perkins loved his family, friends and Navy colleagues. He loved to travel, collect and share premium wines, observe wildlife, curate legendary fishing expeditions and he was always ready to tell a great story. He was a longtime resident of Coronado, CA and helped his wife Judy raise his three stepchildren, Todd, Jamie and Eric Anderson. After retirement, he and Judy moved to Hansville, WA, where he had ample opportunity to explore his passions and further extend his network of close friends. He is survived by his wife, Judy, of 44 years and his stepchildren, Todd of Hansville, WA, Jamie of Pleasant Hill, CA and Eric (Michele) of San Jose, CA, as well as his six treasured grandchildren, Tyler, Cole, Emily, Zack, Carlee and Hannah.
A service in Perkins honor is being planned for November 2019 in Hansville, WA. The family asks that if memorial contributions would like to be made, that they are sent to:
Wounded Warrior Project