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Dr. Jack N. Rinker
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Obituary for Dr. Jack N. Rinker

Dr. Jack N. Rinker, age 93, of Cranberry Twp., passed away on Thursday, January 12, 2017 while under the care of Sherwood Oaks.

Born September 5, 1923, in Chicago, IL, he was the son of the late William N. Rinker and Sarah Bell (Knoll) Rinker.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty Rinker, whom he married on August 20, 1950; two daughters, Lucinda (Robert) Tripp of Redford, MI, and Aimee Elizabeth (Craig) Noble of Wexford, ME, and three grandsons and one granddaughter.

A memorial service will be held at a later date at Sherwood Oaks.

Cremation arrangements have been entrusted to the Boylan-Glenn-Kildoo Funeral Home & Cremation Svcs., Inc., 130 Wisconsin Ave., Cranberry Twp., PA 16066.

After World War II Service in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Jack N. Rinker completed his education at Purdue University with a doctorate in Bacteriology in 1957. He joined an Engineer Research and Development Center predecessor, the Photo Interpretation Research Branch of the U.S. Army Snow, Ice and Permafrost Research Establishment where he developed remote sensing and image analysis techniques for military and civil applications. He went on to conduct research and development on a wide range of remote sensing technologies (photo, infrared thermal, radar, multispectral, hyperspectral), and taught these subjects to Army and Air Force teams in the United States, as well as to government and academic personnel in Latin America. He worked extensively in arctic, tropic, and desert areas making significant contributions to important applications that include crevasse detection, sea ice mapping, radio ice sounding, tunnel and fire detection, engineering site selection, cross-country movement. He led two international expeditions on the Greenland icecap.

As Chief of the Training and Assistance Branch of the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science Data Center from 1976-1977, he developed and taught short courses in Remote Sensing for the international community. He joined the U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center's (TEC) predecessor the U.S. Army Engineer Topographic Laboratories (ETL) in 1977 to serve as Team Leader of the Remote Sensing group that by 1992 had expanded into a center of the Research Institute. During that time, Dr. Rinker formed the interagency Desert Processes Working Group to focus on developing and improving the analysis of image patterns for desert terrain. From 1985-1986, he researched and documented processes using photo interpretation to support disaster evaluations; a routine technique today with roots in the work conducted by Dr. Rinker and others at ETL. For a period of time, he was one of four world-class researchers and pioneers in the field of photo interpretation, terrain analysis and remote sensing - Robert E. Frost, Robert D. Leighty and Olin W. Mintzer III - that collaborated under the same roof at ETL. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he completed image analyses of seven areas for predicting terrain characteristics in support of cross-country movement. Dr. Rinker's knowledge of the desert and his terrain analysis skills were valuable to warfighters in planning mobility routes, hazards avoidance, defilades positions, and potential ambush sites. Dr. Rinker's knowledge of the desert and his terrain analysis led to field commander's ultimate decision to use the "left-hook" maneuver which resulted in the ultimate downfall of Iraqi forces in Operation Desert Storm. Before retiring, he worked diligently in publishing his Remote Sensing Field Guide - Desert as an interactive online guide to provide the widest possible dissemination of knowledge distilled in it.


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