JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Nearly 150 Sailors, family, friends and Jacksonville community leader sgathered for a memorial service, Jan. 19, to honor retired Rear Adm. Joseph "Joe" Lustrat Coleman, 91, who passed away, Jan. 14.
"Admiral Coleman really set the standard when it comes to dedication to serving both your country and your community," said Rear Adm. Rick Williamson, commander, Navy Region Southeast. "His commitment to our Navy was nothing short of heroic, having spent a combat tour in World War II and three more in Vietnam. After his military career, he went on to have a tremendous impact here in the Jacksonville community. He will be missed not only by his family, but by everyone who knew him."
Coleman was born in Atlanta, Sept. 10, 1922. He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program in 1942 and earned his wings of gold and commission as an Ensign in 1943.
Throughout his naval career, Coleman logged 3,200 flight hours and performed 550 fixed-wing landings at sea. In combat, he served aboard USS Swannee (CVE 27) during World War II, and commanded USS Mispillion (AO 105) and USS Ranger (CVA 61) during the Vietnam War. Coleman retired in 1975 after 32 years of service.
In civilian life, Coleman was an active member of the Jacksonville community. He served as chairman of the Jacksonville Electric Authority and board member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the Navy League of Jacksonville and Commodore's League of Jacksonville. Additionally, he was a founder and former president of the Fleet Landing Retirement Community and a national trustee of the Association of Naval Aviation.
"Admiral Coleman was an exemplary Sailor and someone you always wanted to spend time with," said Bill Dudley, national vice president of the Navy League of the United States. "He inspired all Sailors and carried on the tradition of the Navy and brought it to the Navy League as well. He really epitomized what anyone wearing the uniform would want to emulate and he was a friend to everybody. All of his shipmates will greatly miss him."
Coleman maintained a close relationship with the Navy during retirement. In addition to his association with the Navy League, he also routinely attended change of command ceremonies, retirement ceremonies, air shows and other official events throughout the tri-base region.
"He may have officially retired from the Navy, but he never really left it," said Denice Gonzalez, Navy Region Southeast protocol officer. "Even in retirement, his heart was with the Navy, from mentoring and engaging with senior leadership right down to grooming young Sailors."
During the ceremony, family and friends recounted memories of Coleman, who was honored with a three-gun volley and a missing man formation aerial salute. Williamson then presented the ensign from the casket to Coleman's wife, Margaret.
"All of our warmest condolences go out to Margaret and the rest of the Coleman family," Williamson said. "Joseph touched so many people and there are many of us here today with heavy hearts, but I'm sure none so much as his family. I personally appreciate the sacrifices they have made through the years and want them to know that there are a lot of people, not just here in the region, but throughout the Navy, that feel the same."
Coleman was laid to rest at Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jan. 20. He is survived by Margaret; his children, Carol Lee Jackson, Sherrie Lynn Millichap and Joseph Lustrat Coleman, Jr.; as well as seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Southeast, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrse/.