Jarvis Jenness Offutt was born on October 26, 1894 in Omaha, Nebraska to Charles Lemuel Offutt JR and Bertha Clark Offutt. He attended Omaha Central High School and graduated from the Lawrenceville Preparatory School in 1913. He graduated from Yale University in 1917; while at Yale, he was a member of the Varsity Club, Glee Club, and Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He was a Y track man winning his honors in the high hurdles. He was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, an organization which recognizes high academic achievement. In 1916, while still at Yale, Offutt served as a company supply sergeant for the Yale Field Artillery on a summer deployment to Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.
Later in 1916, he entered officer training at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, but after a month he asked to be transferred to aviation. He was one of three candidates sent from the United States to Canada to be trained by the Royal Canadian Flying Corps.
He went with them to Fort Worth, Texas, where he received his commission as a First Lieutenant in the Aviation Section, United States Signal Corps in November 1916.
In January 1917 he went to England for further training, after which he was assigned duties as a ferry pilot attached to the Royal Air Force 56 Squadron, a unit which continues to have strong ties to the base today. As a ferry pilot, his duties were to deliver aircraft from factories in England to bases in the front of France. In the course of his duties, he crossed the English Channel almost daily.
First Lieutenant Offutt died on August 13, 1918 from injuries received while flying at Valheureux, France. It is unknown whether his death resulted from enemy action or from an aircraft accident. He was the first Omaha native pilot to die during World War I. He was 23 years old.
On May 10, 1924, the landing field at Fort Crook, near Omaha, Nebraska, was renamed Offutt Field in his honor. The dedication ceremony, attended by Offutt’s mother and brother, featured an aerial salute from 19 planes which circled the field; then Major Charles tinker commanded seven of the planes which flew from Fort Riley, Kansas and dropped a dedicatory wreath to highlight the ceremony.
On January 13, 1948 both the airfield and Fort Crook were renamed Offutt Air Force Base.
On August 12, 2018, the Defenders of Freedom Air and Space Show was held to honor the 100th anniversary of his passing as well as a special memorial ceremony at his grave in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The family was grateful that anyone remembered. His nephew Dave said” Let’s face it, over time memories fad and you tend to forget about the importance of the past events. Jarvis was someone who lost his life in a fairly tragic way, but he was one of millions.”
Honor and Remember Nebraska Chapter is pleased to present this flag sponsored by Doug and Kim Reid to the family of First Lieutenant Jarvis J. Offutt.