Commander Johnsten Lee Marksbury, USN, Retired, answered his final ready alert on February 9, 2008. He was born on February 8, 1945, in Hannibal, Missouri and spent his school years in Centralia, Missouri where he played high school basketball, golf and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
John entered the Navy in 1968 after graduating from Parsons College in Iowa with a degree in Business Administration. During his Navy career he obtained his Masters Degree from Webster College.
Decoy’s Career Highlights
1970 - 1972 Attached to Joint Air Route Traffic Control Center, NAS Key West, Florida. 1972 - 1975 Assigned to VA-72 “Bluehawks” on board USS John F. Kennedy flying the A-7B Corsair. 1976 - 1979 Instructor pilot with VT-24, NAS Beeville, Texas flying the TA-4J Skyhawk. Through most of the 1980’s, “Decoy” served on board USS Midway, home-ported in Japan. He was assigned to VA-56 for two tours flying the A-7E, and also served as Strike Operations Officer for the ship while flying with both attack squadrons, VA-56 and VA-93. During the final years of his Navy career, “Decoy” was a mainstay within the Naval Air Training Command in Corpus Christi, Texas. He served as Chief of Staff for Training Air Wing 2 and was honored to have been selected to the responsible position for the development, testing and implementation of the Navy’s newest jet trainer, the T-45A Goshawk. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. “Decoy” accumulated over 8,500 flight hours in multiple tactical jet aircraft, and accomplished 852 carrier landings throughout his Navy career. After retirement, Decoy became the director of combat flight training for Advanced Training Systems International (ATSI) laying claim to the most A-4 Skyhawk hours – over 5000.
- Received his coveted “Wings of Gold” while assigned to VT-23, NAS Kingsville, Texas on April 1, 1970.
John was his nickname, but to anyone that ever knew him in the Navy after 1973, “Decoy” was his call-sign and his Navy name. He took the name “Decoy” from the VA-72 Bluehawks’, which was actually the squadron’s call-sign. He chose it because he had a love and affinity for his first attack squadron, and also for those first squadron mates that stayed with him throughout his life.
Decoy Marksbury absolutely loved flying Navy jets and he had a unique talent of being able to teach Student Naval Aviators and his fellow instructors alike how to fly with the same zest and professionalism he maintained through his entire life. He taught them how to become good wingmen, good leaders in and out of the cockpit, and to become better Naval Officers. He leaves behind the reputation of devotion to his wife of 38 years Lora, daughter Julie Cazalas and son Capt John Marksbury, and granddaughter Kacie Cazalas, eternal love and service to his country and excellence in military leadership.
Decoy has clearly left his mark on Naval Aviation. He molded the T-45 Goshawk into an outstanding jet trainer and he also trained his students to be the best aviators that ever strapped on a tactical military jet. Many a Naval Aviator who was trained by Decoy will tell the world for the rest of their lives that he was the best of the best…….
A Giant in Naval Aviation!!!!!