Asbury United Methodist Church, Cinnaminson, NJ
Sunday, March 26, 2023

Asbury Veteran: John Gentile

US Air Force
Born and raised in the Far North East section of Philadelphia, John Gentile was a member of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.  He graduated from George Washington High School in 1987 and enlisted in the US Air Force.


John’s Basic Training was in San Antonio, Texas, at Lackland AFB.   After Basic John was sent to Chanute AFB in Illinois for four months of Technical Training before reporting to his Permanent Duty Station at Beale AFB, 9th Reconnaissance Wing, in California (1988-92).


At Beale, John was an Aerospace Ground Equipment Technician with the 9th Field Maintenance Squadron.  He worked on equipment that started the jet aircraft and provided them with power while on the ground, including turbine, gas and diesel engines, generators, air conditioning and heating units, etc.





The Squadron also provided direct support to spy planes:

      Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird – a long-range strategic reconnaissance aircraft

      capable of flying MACH 3.2+ (2,200 mph) at 85,000 ft.

      Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady

      (shot down on May 1, 1960 over Soviet territory --- Francis Gary Power)


John went on several air refueling missions as a result of winning Airman of the Quarter Awards.  He served during the Invasion of Panama (Operation Just Cause-1989) and during the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm 1990-91).


Honorably discharged from the Air Force in March, 1992, John moved to the Mojave Desert area of California where he worked as a supervisor for an armed security team at a gated community.


After the death of his father in 1994, John moved back to Philadelphia where he was employed by the Faulkner Auto Association in addition to working as a Funeral Director’s Assistant.


In 1995, employed fulltime at Givnish Family Funeral Homes, John enrolled in Mercer Community College in the Mortuary Science Program.  He earned both an Associate of Business Degree and a Mortuary Science Degree in 2000 graduating Summa Cum Laude (first in his class)!  He then became a licensed Funeral Director in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


In May, 1995, while on business at Abington Memorial Hospital, John met Michelle who was employed there.  She accidentally slammed a freight elevator door on his hand … then waited with him while his hand was x-rayed.  He asked her out to dinner and she accepted.   Six months later John proposed to Michelle and they were married in 1997 at Good Shepherd UMC in Philadelphia.  They have two daughters, Christina and Gianna.  The Gentile family moved to Cinnaminson in 2004 and transferred their membership from Good Shepherd UMC to Asbury UMC.