Fred Joseph Breaux, Commander US Navy (Ret.) of Fairfax VA passed away at home while sleeping in his favorite chair at age 89 on March 4 2019. He was a retired Navy fighter pilot, national planning consultant, community volunteer, amateur naturalist, and gardener who loved spending time with his family. He had the demeanor of a thoughtful professor, was physically tough and resilient, and was loved by many.
Fred was raised in Santa Ana, CA during the Great Depression and began working several jobs at age 12 to support his family. His father, Frederick Joseph Breaux, a Navy veteran, was killed in an oil field accident shortly before Fred’s birth. He lived with his mother Helen Wardwell Breaux, her parents and her siblings in Huntington Beach, CA. When he was three, Helen married Clarence “Matt” Matthews, a wonderful stepfather, electrician, and skilled craftsmen. They moved to Santa Ana, known for its large orange groves, and had two daughters. Fred enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 1948 while in high school and later won a Fleet appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. After two years and a bad calculus test, he left the Academy and was commissioned through the Naval Aviation Cadet program during the Korean War. An early Navy jet pilot flying from “straight deck” aircraft carriers, he lost many friends to aircraft crashes and in wartime during his 30 year Navy career. He completed a BS in Electrical Engineering at the Naval Post Graduate School, attended the Naval War College, and received an MA in Political Science from George Washington University.
Fred flew Navy fighter aircraft including the Hellcat, Bearcat, Panther, Cougar, and Demon and deployed around the world on aircraft carriers and a seaplane tender. He was Commanding Officer of VF-126, a Navy fighter Replacement Squadron, at NAS Miramar in San Diego, CA from 1968-1969 where he flew the A-4 Skyhawk and supported the creation of the Navy Fighter Weapons School “Topgun.”
Fred met Adele Presler of San Diego, CA on a blind date. She was small, smart, feisty, and had a big heart. They were happily married from 1954 until her death in 1999. They moved with their children between assignments in San Diego, Monterey, and Alameda, CA, Beeville, TX, Whidbey Island, WA, and Newport RI. They moved to Fairfax, VA in 1972. Every winter Adele would announce they were moving “back to San Diego,” but when spring arrived, she would change her mind. They stayed in Fairfax.
Fred retired from the Navy in 1978 and worked as a national planning and war gaming consultant for the Navy OPNAV Staff, Naval War College, FEMA, and other organizations until he was almost 80. He spent many hours volunteering in the community, alongside his wife. In recent years, he pursued hobbies old and new; gardening, cooking, following current events, and genealogy, which he referred to as his “family forest.” In a nod to his California roots, Fred always had a large lemon tree at home mounted on wheels so he could move it inside for the winter.
Fred was a proud and supportive father and grandfather. He is survived by his son Frederick “Rick” Breaux of Fairfax, VA and his wife Sara Brukilacchio Breaux , Fred’s daughter Susan Amelia “Amy” Brennan of Fairfax, VA and her husband Michael Brennan and four grandchildren, Luke Brennan, Benjamin Breaux, Johnathan Breaux, and Jillian Brennan. He is also survived by his younger sister Marion “Mimi” Kelsey of El Segundo, CA and nieces and nephews in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington. He was predeceased by his wife, Adele, his sister Edith “Dede,” and his wife’s siblings Olive, Tom and Robert. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. A celebration of his life is planned.