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In Memoriam

1st Lieutenant Josh "Gilligan" Levin

1st Lieutenant Josh "Gilligan" Levin

14 February 1989

Lieutenant Levin graduated high school with honors in 1976. He then went on to study at Caltech, Stanford and UCLA. He received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering (Summa Cum Laude) and an M.S. in Structural Dynamics in 1981. He then went to Stanford for his PH.D.

He developed software for, and worked with, photometric and photographic observation of deep space objects as well as x-ray sources detected by satellite. Further, he developed a computational model for the behavior of an acoustic beam in a stratified medium at Poseidon Research and operated it at sea for the United States Navy.

Lieutenant Levin then joined the USAF and flew the F-16. He soon became the squadron’s expert on electronic combat (radar and its counter measures, jamming pods, on-board radar systems, etc.). He made combat training videos used by the USAF.

While operational with the 8th TFW they were on a training exercise out of Clark AFB, Phillipines and on February 14th, 1989 his F-16 crashed into Mount Pinatubo.

Visitor Comments

Anonymous, May 15, 2007 - 09:22 AM

Josh was a fellow Panton and friend of mine. He loved the Viper and the life of a fighter pilot. He had told us that if he ever died he wanted to be remembered with cheer so our memorial to him was a squadron party where we talked of the good times we had with him. You will be missed Josh.

Anonymous, Oct 16, 2007 - 10:13 PM

He was a beautiful person. So much is written about his academic accomplishments, but he was also a very down to earth person. Loved dogs . . . the ocean . . . good food. I loved him, I miss him.

Zorro, Apr 20, 2008 - 05:58 PM

I went to pilot training with Josh and could not believe he crashed 4 years later. He was a great guy to meet and I will miss him until we will meet up in the sky, Zorro Rnlaf

1st Lt. Josh Levin
Vince, Aug 13, 2008 - 02:56 AM

I was in the 35th AMU (Crew Chief)and I remember the day like it was yesterday. There was very heavy fog over the range. I never met him but heard good things about him. It was a sad day for all our guys. It always is when these things happen. The squadron Commander had a briefing with all of us maintenance folks later that day. I rember what he told us"If you stay in this business long enough, you will see these things hapen to good people". It didn't help us feel much better at the time, but it did help us prepare ourselves for the future guys that did not come back from doing what they loved to do.

1st Lt. Josh Levin
Anonymous, Jan 06, 2009 - 10:24 PM

I served with Lt Levin in the 35th. I inspected his survival equipment as a life support technician. I learned of the crash the week I was returning to the states and did not find out about his passing until later when a co-worker wrote me. Lt Levin was a great guy and was always respectful of the enlisted personnel. We lost a great person but he is truly in a better place.

Curly, Feb 10, 2009 - 06:45 PM

I was in the 13th squadron out of Misawa and flew in to be on the mishap board. As we searched through the steep mountain jungle area, I found his canopy rail section with his name printed on it. He was flying his viper. We all realized the importance of this find and the board president shipped it to Josh's mother.

1st Lt. Josh Levin
Leslie, Mar 09, 2009 - 07:32 AM

I hope it's ok for a civilian to post here. Josh died so long ago before there were boards to post comments such as these. I appreciated reading his compatriots' comments, and not surprised that 20 yrs after his death that people still remember him so highly.

I dated Josh in high school. We had a planetarium and a heliostat (a solar telescope) at our high school. Josh taught me how to find the zodiacal constellations in the sky (which in retrospect was probably a dream come true for a 16 y/o guy to spend hours in the dark looking at the stars with the girl he liked). For Valentine's Day our sophomore year, he made me a small replica of the heliostat and a special card that said, "You are the sunshine of my life!" Yes, within that astonishing intellect of his lurked a true romantic. 35 yrs later, I still have his gift. How ironic that he left us on Valentine's Day.

His memorial was gut-wrenching and I always think of him whenever I pass the cemetary where the service was held. His mother Lynn and sister Ariel appreciated everyone who flew with Josh that made their way to L.A. for the memorial service. And what a wake! We even burned his old surfboard on the beach that night in view of his mother's house so she could see it.

We were all blessed to know Josh. He was an exceptional man. And he died doing what he had always wanted to do - what he loved. Yes, remember him with cheer as he would want! And look forward to when we see him again in a better place.

1st Lt. Josh Levin
Chris, Oct 10, 2010 - 05:43 AM

I served with Josh @ OTS, Medina Annex, Lakeland AFB, 1985 (Class 86-01). He was a down to earth person, friendly, and a strong leader. He graduated with 1st Honors. I fully anticipated his success as an aviator and was saddened to hear of his tragic death. I did not know of his academic accomplishments (I too am an Aero Engineer); if I had I certainly would have been motivated to discuss engineering and other technical ideas. I gather he was a bit humble too (I mean this in a very positive way) since no one in the flight really knew of his academic success. He NEVER bragged about himself! In retrospect I have to say he was a most honorable gentleman and I'm a better person for having known him. My Prayers to Josh and his family!! A Patriot for Sure!!

Scott, Feb 12, 2011 - 06:42 PM

Its very sad each year to remember Valentine's Day 22 years ago. I was in Josh's ENJJPT Flight, LIFT Flight, and RTU Class. I often wonder what would have been.

We both wanted to go to Kunsan out of RTU so we decided to flip for it. The nickel came up heads and Josh won. Very strange how much hinged on that one toss of the coin.

If anybody has contact information for Josh's mother or sister could you please forward it to me at SFS737 at gmail dot com.

Thank you,


1LT Josh Levin
Meteor, Feb 28, 2011 - 07:12 PM

I was one of Josh's B-course IPs at Luke. He was obviously a very sharp guy with all his academic credentials, but we would have never known about those if his classmates hadn't told us. He had a very sunny disposition, and we all laughed as he drove around in his dune buggy. We were stunned when he hit Pinatubo. His potential was so great. The Air Force, the nation, and his family suffered a great loss. We miss you, Josh.

David Corbin, May 05, 2011 - 09:05 PM

I grew up with Josh in Beverly Hills and life back in those days was slower and sweeter. Wicked-smart but also very popular. He could hold his own in a discussion of just about any topic. Great laugh and great sense of humor.

Most of us only knew scant details/rumors of his passing....before the internet and discussion boards.

I'm happy to know so many others had the opportunity to meet him.

Rest in peace and thank you for serving, JL

My bother, ist Lietenant Josh Levin
Ari, Nov 03, 2011 - 05:02 PM

Thank you all for your loving, wonderful and heartfelt comments! I can not tell you how much it means to me. I still miss Josh so very much and knowing that he was so well respected and loved means a lot to me. He was indeed a marvelous person. He represented the best of all worlds - he was an academic, (simply stated, he was quite brilliant), but he also he loved the ocean and girls and fun. He was a loving brother and I could not have asked for anyone better to be my brother!

Lynne Levin Eisler, Nov 03, 2011 - 09:48 PM

Often I feel so very alone in my waiting for Josh to walk thru the door or be on the other end of a phone call to this day. What you've all said is warming and so dispells some of the loneliness of missing him. Ah-h what might have been had he survived . . . Still he did have the most exciting, fun, fruitful 30 years of any one I've ever known. And wasn't I lucky to have been his mother!

Josh Levin, friend
Clint, Nov 03, 2011 - 11:06 PM

I'm almost never at a loss for words; but I really can't think of anything to add to what all of you have already expressed. So I'll just say that to this day - 22 1/2 years later - I still think of Josh and miss Josh.

My childhood friend
Michele Korkowski, Nov 04, 2011 - 01:01 AM

On sleep-overs at his house, we would play all day in the tree-house in his back yard, hide under the in-ground trampoline, and at night lie on his bunkbeds gazing at the stars he'd stuck on his bedroom ceiling (all positioned correctly I'm sure). We spent hours at the beach together - he was truly my best buddy. I moved to live with my dad when I was 14, but "Ah-h what might have been had he survived".....has it really been 22 years??? It seems like we were playing just yesterday....

Peter A Hogg, Nov 04, 2011 - 01:07 AM

Josh was a lot more than just his "smarts" and being his Uncle was a treat and a blessing having had a lot of wonderful times with him. Tears come as I write this as he is and always will be missed as he was special.

Joh Levin
Peter Arroyo, Nov 04, 2011 - 06:28 PM

I never had the opportunity to know Josh but I did marry into an incredible family. His sister Ari is one of the most loving, thoughtful and giving person I know. Josh nor Ari could have become the people they are without having the love, nurture and support of loving parents such as Lynne, who I adore, and Ben. Josh if you are looking down on us, know that you live thorugh us so long as we breathe. It is through the stories that both Lynne and Ari share that I've come to know you. Until we meet.

A friend, a hero...
Neal Swerdlow, May 29, 2012 - 05:14 PM

As we plan the 40th reunion of Josh’s Elementary School class, there is no classmate of whom we are more proud, nor one we will miss more dearly, than Josh Levin. Josh was a magical young man, who from his earliest years projected great kindness, wisdom and a sparkle for life. I was very fortunate to be his friend for many of those early years – riding skateboards and stingray bikes, flipping on his pit trampoline, flying down Ridgedale Drive on home-made push carts, riding mini-bikes, lighting just a few M-80’s and dreaming about surfing and airplanes. We had the worst and best math and physics teachers together from grade school through graduation; he was the first kid to figure out the coolest tricks on the new HP-30 calculator, and the best at landing the Apollo lunar simulator. I remember the stick-on glow-in-the-dark constellations on his ceiling, and the bodysurfing hand-boards he built, and the time he kindly but firmly convinced me that I would be a fool to try to build a kit airplane. We lost touch in college, and I cried when I heard, years ago, that he had died. He is a hero, for his kindness and wisdom, for his sparkle for life, for his bravery and great service. When his friends and classmates gather for our reunion this year, Josh will be in our thoughts and in our hearts.

Astronaut Levin
Keith Sherman, May 30, 2012 - 02:58 AM

Getting to attend this memorial for Josh ... grievous, yes, but also sweet. Ever since, all those years ago, I got something in the mail from my mom, a clipping from an L.A. newspaper, I wanted to know more. What happened? What had his life in the years after elementary and high school been like? Had he still been pursuing his dream of becoming an astronaut? What became of his mom and dad and sister? How could they deal with that? ... It's been a mystery and a longing that's come back to me again and again over the years, and it hasn't really been fading. ... It's largely a testimony to the impression made by Josh, who lived half a block away, when my family first moved from Cleveland to Beverly Hills, and was one of the most easily-made and enjoyable friends I've ever known. He was, like, part Tom Sawyer and part Errol Flynn, maybe a little bit like Indiana Jones (or better yet, Han Solo), and little bit like Tom Hanks's character in "Saving Private Ryan." He was sort of a boy's boy and a bit of a nerd (minus the nerdiness) at the same time. ... I just also want to say that it's also a testimony to his family, who seemed to me like they were from another galaxy (far, far away), with their puka shells and Mrs. Levin's homemade beef jerky, and the charming, totally-unannoying little sister, and the dad (I assumed) who was somehow responsible for the Never-Never-Land backyard with the in-ground trampoline and the awesome treehouse. I'm really glad to get to share memories of Josh with you all; to learn all this new stuff about him, and hear all these different takes on him; different impressions -- and yet the same. ... And I never imagined my dream of hearing his mom or dad or sister talk about him, would ever be realized.

Msgt Cecil Andrews, Crew Chief supervisor, Jul 23, 2012 - 08:12 AM

As a newly assigned maintenance supervisor, I had not yet had the opportunity to meet the pilots of the 35 TFS Pantons. However all of my crew chiefs knew the pilots and several of them were well acquainted with LT Levin. When we heard that we had lost aircraft 274, the crew chiefs knew immediately which pilot was in that bird and I could tell by the shocked and anguished looks on their faces that they liked him a lot. In fact, their reactions to our loss left such an indelible impression on me that to this very day I keep on my wall, a flat sheet-metal replica of aircraft 86-0274 with the name Josh "Gilligan" Levin stenciled below the canopy area. And every Valentine’s Day, I take moment to pay respect to Lt Josh Levin, a man that wasn't finished leaving his mark on this world. I didn't even know you Josh, but I honor your memory you just the same.

Kurt Heisel, Aug 26, 2012 - 03:13 AM

Josh was among my very closest friends. We met at ucla and did everything together. As you all know he was a life force. We used to quote lord Jim - in the destructive element immerse - that he did...he was a giant dream in forward motion...I think of him often...even my young girls know our stories...I miss you and all that you were...

Josh will always be missed
Dutch Remkes, Mar 18, 2013 - 09:47 PM

I've been in many squadrons when the bad news comes in, first as a rumor, then a nagging concern, and finally the confirmation. So it was that day at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. The weather was rain with low clouds, fitting for the way that we felt. There was hope for the rest of that day that Josh had punched out and just couldn't get to his radio; but, as night approached, we were more convinced that the unthinkable had happened. We packed a bus with several of Josh's friends and headed to the Blue Lagoon, along the coast north of Manila and near Baguio. We talked about Josh a lot that weekend and for many weeks thereafter, how great a guy he was, how smart, etc. A few years later, I took my wife and two kids to California to meet Josh's parents. We still connect on occasion, and I'm grateful to have met Lynne, especially. Josh, you will be missed by many for a very long time.

How's the weather in Heaven, Josh?
Miral Kim-E, Feb 15, 2014 - 08:51 AM

Caltech was forever ago. And it sometimes seems like yesterday. Raising a glass for you, buddy. Thanks for the memories.

Not a day goes by
Anonymous, Feb 18, 2014 - 09:16 AM

Not a day goes by..... I am grateful every night to see the stars. Therein you live, as you always did, my love.

I still expect Josh to appear at the door . . .
Lynne Levin Eisler, Sep 08, 2017 - 07:01 PM

A-a-ah that he could share my mountain home. It still seems like only yesterday that he left to live among HIS stars. Your reminiscenses are a gift to me. He had so many fine friends - I wonder where you all are now -what your lives are like - -

Josh Levin
Ted B Camp, Jul 05, 2019 - 05:30 AM

I was fortunate enough to meet Josh at LIFT in the Spring of 1987. I was going through Holloman as a Captain, after a FAC tour, but I was also going to Recce F-4s. I was part of this class of extremely talented young aviators going on to F-16s and F-15s, but to me Josh stood out. He was incredibly intelligent, while also being very humble. Although our time together at Holloman was very brief, I knew that he was a young man that could have a significant impact on the USAF as his career progressed. I was crushed to hear of his accident. As a 59 year old airline pilot now, I still remember the brilliance that Josh portrayed 32 years ago. Flying fast jets is a very unforgiving business; his life was taken way too soon. I’ll always fondly remember the month or so that we spent together. What a good dude.

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