Nick Jabara dreamed of being an Air Force pilot. And he was well on his way to realizing that dream before dying tragically in a flight training accident in 2002, just after his graduation from the Air Force Academy in 2001.
On this Veterans Day, Gonzaga Prep honors his memory.
It was Nick’s late grandfather who inspired him, his mother Linda says. “We took the boys to the memorial airport when they were little. They heard the stories about their grandfather’s service.”
That grandfather was U.S. Air Force Col. James Jabara, the first American jet fighting ace and namesake of the Wichita airport the family visited. Col. Jabara was a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, and received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross in service to his country. A statue commemorating his military aviation achievements resides in the plaza at the Air Force Academy.
Nick’s pursuit of his grandfather's footsteps, selfless service to his country, and path to the Air Force Academy was made possible by Gonzaga Prep, Linda says. And while going to the Air Force academy was his goal, his experience at Gonzaga Prep enriched his life in immeasurable ways.
It was the influence of his brother Ben, already a student at Prep, that motivated Nick to transfer from West Valley his junior year. “Mom, I want to go to the Air Force Academy, and the only way to get there is if I go to Prep.” Linda says. Principal Cindy Reopelle (academic vice principal at the time) facilitated the transfer, and Jabara made the most of it. Jabara earned good grades, was a member of Knights of the Leash, track & field, and “loved” Search.
“He just loved Prep so much,” Linda said. And he made lifelong friends — even after his passing. Those friends remain in close touch with the Jabara family and their children to this day.
Nick is buried at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. His memory is honored on the plaque accompanying a statue of his late grandfather. His legacy of service lives on at Gonzaga Prep through the Nick Jabara Memorial Award, given to two juniors who exemplify his spirit of leadership, willingness to raise questions in theology classes, and commitment to service.
LEGACY OF SERVICE: THE JABARA FAMILY
Nicholas Jabara’s family is steeped in military service with grandfather, father, uncle, and brother all veterans or actively serving:
Col. James Jabara, US Air Force
James W. Jabara, father, retired US Army
Lt. Col. Benjamin Jabara, M.D, US Air Force