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Archive for the ‘U.S. Air Force’ Category

Bob Weiler was waist-gunner on B-29 bomber shot down over Osaka in WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on September 8, 2014 at 1:38 am
Sgt. Bob Weiler in his 20s when he flew as a waist-gunner aboard a B-29 bomber out of a base on Guam to bomb Japan during the Second World War. Photo provided

Sgt. Bob Weiler in his 20s when he flew as a waist-gunner aboard a B-29 bomber out of a base on Guam to bomb Japan during the Second World War. Photo provided

Bob Weiler was the left waist-gunner on a B-29 Superfortress dubbed “Sky Scrapper,” part of the 61th Bomb Squadron, 39th Bomb Group, 314h Bomb Wing of the 20th Air Force, based on Guam in the Mariana Islands bombing Japan late in World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

Sgt. John Spatharos’ bomber called ‘Steak & Eggs’ crashed in Coral Sea in WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on June 27, 2014 at 1:38 am
 Muggie and John Spatharos are shown in their wedding photo. They were married on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1944, a week after he was discharged from the Air Force after serving in New Guinea during World War II. Photo provided

Muggie and John Spatharos are shown in their wedding photo. They were married on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1944, a week after he was discharged from the Air Force after serving in New Guinea during World War II. Photo provided

When Sgt. John Spatharos of Tangerine Woods, Englewood, Fla. climbed aboard an A-20, twin-engine attack bomber dubbed “Steak and Eggs” at Kila Airstrip on the island of New Guinea during World War II he had no idea what fate had in store for him. Read the rest of this entry »

Sgt. Bob Herres bailed out of his B-24 bomber over Ploesti in WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on June 23, 2014 at 1:38 am
Sgt. Bob Herres was 20 when this picture was taken. He was in the 15th Air Force in Italy when his B-24 "Liberator" bomber was shot down over enemy territory. Photo provided

Sgt. Bob Herres of Venice, Fla. was 20 when this picture was taken. He was in the 15th Air Force in Italy when his B-24 “Liberator” bomber was shot down over enemy territory. Photo provided

It was dark and eerie when he climbed out of the sack at 4 a.m, shaved and ate a breakfast of powdered eggs, Spam and coffee. Then he and the rest of the 10-man crew of “Shack Happy,” a B-24 bomber, headed to the briefing room with scores of other B-24 crews to get the bad news. Read the rest of this entry »

Larry Rhodes of Venice was gunner on B-29 bomber flying over Tokyo during WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on June 18, 2014 at 1:38 am
 Sgt. Larry Rhodes in his leather flight jacket with his wings on his pocket. He was in his early 20s when this picture was taken during the time he served in the China, Burma and India Theatre in World War II. Photo provided

Sgt. Larry Rhodes in his leather flight jacket with his wings on his pocket. He was in his early 20s when this picture was taken during the time he served in the China, Burma and India Theatre in World War II. Photo provided

Larry Rhodes of Venice grew up in Far Rockaway, N.Y. Just out of high school in 1941 he went to work for Republic Aviation building P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighter planes on Long Island, N.Y. for World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

Bob Burdick flew as top turret gunner on Ventura patrol plane in Pacific during WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on June 13, 2014 at 1:38 am
This is Bob Burdick's crew that flew a Ventura twin-engine Navy patrol plane in the Pacific during World War II. He's the guy squatting at the far right. Photo provided

This is Bob Burdick’s crew that flew a Ventura twin-engine Navy patrol plane in the Pacific during World War II. He’s the guy squatting at the far right. Photo provided

Bob Burdick was a top turret gunner on a PV-1 Ventura patrol plane in the Pacific during World War II. The 88-year-old former gunner who now lives in Port Charlotte, Fla. with his wife, Maryan, saw combat at Tannin Island in the South Pacific, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Japanese home islands before war’s end. Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Hutcheson of Burnt Store in Air Force Intelligence during ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’

In Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. Air Force on May 30, 2014 at 1:38 am
 Ed Hutcheson of Burnt Store Marine still keeps of with world events by easing U.S.A. Today. He was once an Air Force intelligence decoder during the 'Cuban Missile Crisis' of the 1960s. Sun photo by Don Moore

Ed Hutcheson of Burnt Store Marine still keeps up with world events by reading U.S.A. Today. He was once an Air Force intelligence decoder during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ of the 1960s. Sun photo by Don Moore

Ed Hutcheson of Burnt Store Marine, south of Punta Gorda, was an airman first class working for Air Force Intelligence. His job was to intercept secret messages sent by his Soviet counterpart about the Soviet’s military operations. Read the rest of this entry »

Chet Buckenmaier spent 10 years working on B-1A bomber during ‘Cold War’

In U.S. Air Force on May 16, 2014 at 1:38 am
Chet Buckenmaier of Burnt Store Marina sits beside a picture of a B-1 Bomber he helped design and build while serving in the Air Force for almost 20 years. Sun photo by Don Moore

Chet Buckenmaier of Burnt Store Marina sits beside a picture of a B-1 Bomber he helped design while serving in the Air Force for almost 20 years. Sun photo by Don Moore

Chet Buckenmaier comes from a military family. His grandfather rode with Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” in Cuba during the Spanish American War of 1898. His uncle was a Navy fighter pilot in World War II. He served for almost 20 years in the Air Force. His son is an Army doctor currently serving at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. His granddaughter is in ROTC at Dickinson College. Read the rest of this entry »

Sgt. Jack Freeman remembers Tet Offensive at Bien Hoa Air Force Base in 1968

In U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on April 21, 2014 at 1:38 am
 Airman Jack Freeman of Port Charlotte is pictured with his Jeep along the runway at Bien Hoa Air Force base north of Saigon in 1969 where he worked as weapons specialist. In the background is a Douglas A-1 "Skyraider." Photo provide

Airman Jack Freeman of Port Charlotte, Fla. is pictured with his Jeep along the runway at Bien Hoa Air Force base north of Saigon in 1969 where he worked as weapons specialist. In the background is a Douglas A-1 “Skyraider.” Photo provided

Tet was the big battle former Air Force Sgt. Jack Freeman of Port Charlotte, Fla recalls most vividly during his year-long deployment to Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »

2nd Lt. Dick Hughes flew B-25 “Mitchell” bomber on 30 combat missions in WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on March 28, 2014 at 1:38 am
2nd Lt. Dick Hughes at 23, just after he graduated in 1943 from flight school shortly before he started flying a B-25 bomber for the 12th Air Force in Europe during World War II. Photo provided

2nd Lt. Dick Hughes at 23, just after he graduated in 1943 from flight school shortly before he started flying a B-25 bomber for the 12th Air Force in Europe during World War II. Photo provided

Dick Hughes of Paradise Park RV Resort south of Punta Gorda, Fla. flew a B-25, “Mitchell,” twin-engine bomber on 30 combat missions while serving in the 12th Air Force in Europe during World War II. He ended up in a “Mitchell” because a B-24 “Liberator” bomber was too big for him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Airman 1st Class John Perdue decoded secret North Korean codes during war

In Korean War, U.S. Air Force on March 26, 2014 at 1:38 am
Airman John Perdue of Port Charlotte was just getting out of boot camp in 1950 at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas when this picture was taken. Photo provided

Airman John Perdue of Punta Gorda, Fla. was just getting out of boot camp in 1950 at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas when this picture was taken. Photo provided

Airman 1st Class John Perdue of Punta Gorda, Fla. spent most of his four years in the U.S. Air Force decoding secret messages from the North Korean Air Force during the Korean War of the 1950s.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ was Bill Grant’s plane

In U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on March 17, 2014 at 1:38 am
Airman 1st Class Bill Grant stands in front of a Galing gun that could fire 1,500 rounds in 15 seconds. He was a gunner aboard a "Dragon Ship" in Vietnam four decades ago. Photo provided

Airman 1st Class Bill Grant stands in front of a Galing gun that could fire 1,500 rounds in 15 seconds. He was a gunner aboard a “Dragon Ship” in Vietnam four decades ago. Photo provided

“Puff the Magic Dragon” was a big hit in the early ’60’s for Peter, Paul and Mary. It was also a big hit about the same time in a different sort of way for Airman 1st Class Bill Grant who now lives in Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Laurent worked in spy business and White House 24 years

In U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on February 21, 2014 at 1:38 am
 U. S. Air Force Sgt. Jim Laurent was a pioneer in electro-magnetic spying on the Soviet Union during the "Cold War. Photo provided

U. S. Air Force Sgt. Jim Laurent was a pioneer in electro-magnetic spying on the Soviet Union during the “Cold War. Photo provided

Jim Laurent’s 24 years of service in the U.S. Air Force was shrouded in secrecy. He was a high frequency radio communication expert who spied on the Russians, kept the radio equipment running in the SR-71 “Blackbird” spy plane and spent more than five years working in White House Communications for three presidents. Read the rest of this entry »

Leon Gumley of Sarasota died in John Wayne’s arms while making the 1949 war movie ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on February 12, 2014 at 1:38 am
Leon Gumley of Sarasota looks at a movie poster on his living ­room wall advertising "Sands of Iwo Jima" in which he played in with John Wayne after being a glider pilot in World War II. Sun photo by Don Moore

Leon Gumley of Sarasota, Fla. looks at a movie poster on his living ­room wall advertising
“Sands of Iwo Jima” which he played in with John Wayne after being a glider pilot in
World War II. Sun photo by Don Moore

Leon Gumley died in John Wayne’s arms as they fought their way up Mount Suribachi in the closing minutes of the 1949 World War II movie “Sands of Iwo Jima.” He played Marine Pvt. Sid Stein and Wayne was Sgt. John Striker, the hero, who was also killed by a Japanese sniper’s bullet during the closing scene of the film. Read the rest of this entry »

He bombed Saigon bridge in World War II – Sgt. Giff Stowell watched Japanese surrender on Ie Shima Island

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on February 3, 2014 at 1:38 am

Sgt. Stowell stands in front of "Lucky Strike," the B-24 four-engine bomber he flew in, somewhere in the Pacific Theatre of Operation six decades ago. Photo provided by Giff Stowell

Sgt. Giff Stowell stands in front of “Lucky Strike,” the B-24 four-engine bomber he flew in, somewhere in the Pacific Theatre of Operation six decades ago. Photo provided

Giff Stowell of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. was a gunner on an A-20 Havoc twin-engine bomber in the Pacific during his first nine months of combat in World War II. The rest of the war he flew as the nose gunner in “Lucky Strike,” a B-24 “Liberator” in the 380th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. Read the rest of this entry »

The wedding dress that saved airman’s life at close of WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on January 21, 2014 at 1:38 am
Kate and Bill Bingham were married Feb. 16, 1946 at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Chicago. She is wearing a wedding dress made from the silk parachute that saved his life during World War II. Photo provided

Kate and Bill Bingham were married Feb. 16, 1946 at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Chicago. She is wearing a wedding dress made from the silk parachute that saved his life during World War II. Photo provided

When Bill Bingham bailed out of “Lemon Squirts,” his doomed B-24 “Liberator” bomber over northern Italy on Mar. 4, 1945, he never considered the possibility the silk parachute that saved his life would become a family heirloom.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lt. Col. Mary Chalifour served in bases around the world as an Air Force nurse

In U.S. Air Force on December 23, 2013 at 1:38 am
Mary Chalifour was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force when this picture was taken in 1976. Photo provided

Mary Chalifour was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force when this picture was taken in 1976. Photo provided

Mary Chalifour of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Air Force Nursing Corps on a whim for three years in 1958. She and a friend she graduated with from nursing college in North Carolina decided to give the service a try. Twenty years later she retired as a lieutenant colonel in charge of all the nurses at a base hospital at Warner Robins, Ga. Read the rest of this entry »

He flew a C-47 transport plane from Bougainville in WWII

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on December 20, 2013 at 1:38 am
Cunningham is all smiles as he leans against a Piper Cub he soloed in during early flight training in the snow at Siena College in New York during the winter of 1942. Photo provided

Bill Cunningham is all smiles as he leans against a Piper Cub he soloed in during early flight training in the snow at Siena College in New York during the winter of 1942. Photo provided

Bill Cunningham of Viscaya Lakes Mobile Home Park in El Jobean, Fla. was in his early 20s when he signed up for the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in July 1942. He was sent to Siena College in Loudernville, N.Y. were he received 40 hours of civilian flight training. Read the rest of this entry »

He flew the longest bomber mission of WW II in a B-29 over Japan – Capt. Harold Keathley bombed Aomori in ‘Skookum’

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on December 16, 2013 at 1:38 am
The crew of "Skookum," a B-29 bomber in the background, checks a map just before taking off for Aomori, Japan. Capt. Harold Keathley is squatting down at the right front with a straw hat on. Photo provided

The crew of “Skookum,” a B-29 bomber in the background, checks a map just before taking off for Aomori, Japan. Capt. Harold Keathley is squatting down at the right front with a straw hat on. Photo provided

It was Capt. Harold Keathley’s 33rd combat mission flying “Skookum,” a B-29 “Superfortress” over Japan loaded with incendiary bombs. The target: Aomori, located along the coast of Honshu, the northernmost main island.

What made this bombing mission special was that the crew flew from Tinian Island in the Pacific to Aomori and back, a distance of 2,250 miles. The mission was billed as the longest bombing run in World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

Airman Carter Endsley was a jet engine mechanic during ‘Cold War’ in Europe

In Cold War, U.S. Air Force on November 13, 2013 at 1:38 am
 Airman 2/C Carter Endsley is pictured at Chaumont Air Force Base in France in the 1950s. He worked as a jet engine mechanic in the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing that faced off against the Soviet Union in Europe in those days. Photo provided

Airman 2/C Carter Endsley is pictured at Chaumont Air Force Base in France in the 1950s. He worked as a jet engine mechanic in the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing that faced off against the Soviet Union in Europe in those days. Photo provided

Carter Endsley of Punta Gorda Isles kept the F-100 “Super Sabre” jet fighter planes of the 48th Tactical Fighter-Bomber Wing in the air during the “Cold War” in Europe in the 1950s and ’60s. For four years he served as a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force. Read the rest of this entry »

He flew 1st mission in B-17 to Japanese base at Rabaul – Lt. Col. John Pickering was also a ‘Candy Bomber’ in the Berlin Airlift

In Korean War, U.S. Air Force, World War II on October 28, 2013 at 1:38 am
This was taken about the time John Pickering graduated from Aviation Cadet training five days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on De. 7, 1941. Photo provided by John Pickering

This was taken about the time John Pickering graduated from Aviation Cadet training five days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on De. 7, 1941. Photo provided by John Pickering

Five days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941, 2nd Lt. John Pickering graduated from the U.S. Army Aviation Cadet Program. He had his wings, but he wasn’t qualified to fly anything but an AT-6 trainer. Read the rest of this entry »

Lt. Vern Greenwood flew 33 missions in B-24 bomber in Pacific during WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on October 9, 2013 at 1:38 am
 This was Greenwood's bomber crew. He is the fellow at the far left squatting. Next to him is George Price, pilot of the four-engine bomber who Greenwood said was the best B-24 pilot in the Air Corps. The picture was taken on Morotai Island in the Pacific in 1945 Photo provided

This was Greenwood’s bomber crew. He is the fellow at the far left squatting. Next to him is George Price, pilot of the four-engine bomber who Greenwood said was the best B-24 pilot in the Air Corps. The picture was taken on Morotai Island in the Pacific in 1945 Photo provided

Vern Greenwood of Punta Gorda, Fla. signed up for the Aviation Cadet Program on Dec. 1, 1942, almost a year after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor dragging the United States into World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

Sgt. Hugh Bennett was radio operator on B-24 dubbed: ‘The Hard Way’ in WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on September 11, 2013 at 1:38 am
Sgt. Hugh Bennet of Englewood had returned from World War II when this picture of him was taken. He was 21 and it was shortly before he was discharged from the Air Force. Photo provided

Sgt. Hugh Bennet of Englewood, Fla. had returned from World War II when this picture of him was taken. He was 21 and it was shortly before he was discharged from the Army Air Corps. Photo provided

Hugh Bennett of Englewood, Fla. was a radio operator on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber dubbed “The Hard Way.” They were part of the 854th Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 14th Wing of the 8th Air Force flying out of a base 90 miles north of London at Mayfield, England. Read the rest of this entry »

He survived a Japanese concentration camp at 10 – Robert Rienstra lived in Dutch East Indies in 1942

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on August 12, 2013 at 1:38 am
This was the Riensta family before the war. William and Cornelia Riensta are pictured with their three children, Robert, William and Paul. Photo provided by Robert Riensta

This was the Riensta family before the war. William and Cornelia Riensta are pictured with their three children, Robert, William and Paul. Photo provided by Robert Riensta

When Japanese Imperial Army soldiers marched into Semarang, where Robert Rienstra lived, on the island of Java in what was then the Dutch East Indies, he was almost 10 years old. It was March 1942, and the Emperor’s forces were in their zenith, sweeping everything in the Far East before them. Read the rest of this entry »

Area man flew Army planes, choppers for decades

In National Guard, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Reserves on August 9, 2013 at 9:12 pm
 2nd Lt. Bob Dickinson was in his 20s and he had just graduated from Army flight school in 1956 at Fort Rucker, Ala. Photo provided

2nd Lt. Bob Dickinson was in his 20s and he had just graduated from Army flight school in 1956 at Fort Rucker, Ala. Photo provided

Before he completed his 30-plus years in the Army, Bob Dickinson was a an artillery officer, a fixed-wing airplane pilot, a helicopter pilot, a military intelligence officer, a transportation officer and a colonel serving as an assistant commander of the New Jersey National Guard’s 50th Armored Division. Read the rest of this entry »

Joe Brower served in 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron, 13th Air Force, WW II

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on August 2, 2013 at 1:38 am
Sgt. Joe Brower and Jean, his teenaged bride, about the time they were married 68 years ago during World War II. Photo Provided

Sgt. Joe Brower and Jean, his teenaged bride, about the time they were married 68 years ago during World War II. Photo Provided

Joe Brower of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Air Force to become a pilot, at the end of his senior year in high school late in World War II. Because they had more pilots than they needed, he ended up a staff sergeant and engineer aboard a “Flying Fortress” used for rescue in the Pacific Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Heskett was a multi-faceted airman and ‘Cold War’ warrior

In Cold War, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on July 18, 2013 at 1:38 am
Heskett was 22 and working with a crash-rescue team at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa in 1963. Photo provided

Jim Heskett was 22 and working with a crash-rescue team at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa in 1963. Photo provided

Jim Heskett got his mother to sign him into the Air Force in 1958 when he was 17. It was the start of a military career that lasted more than two decades and took him across the country and around the world performing a variety of jobs for Uncle Sam. Read the rest of this entry »

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Keene kept the Air Force flying for three decades

In Desert Storm, U.S. Air Force on June 26, 2013 at 2:38 am
Sgt. Terry Keene stands next to  an F-4E "Phantom" jet fighter that flew in Vietnam. Note the almost undistinguishable red star on jet's intake. It indicates the pilot of the fighter shot down an "MIG" in Vietnam. Photo provided

Sgt. Terry Keene stands next to an F-4E “Phantom” jet fighter that flew in Vietnam. Note the almost undistinguishable red star on the jet’s intake. It indicates the pilot of the fighter shot down a “MIG”. Photo provided

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Keene’s primary duty during his 30 years in the military was keeping some of the most deadly airplanes in the U.S. Air Force’s arsenal ready for war.

Read the rest of this entry »

For 60 years ex-Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas has served his country and his God

In U.S. Air Force on June 19, 2013 at 2:38 am
Ensign Thomas, holding Danny his oldest son, and his wife, Cozette, are all smiles in this Navy photo taken in 1953 when he returned to Hawaii after a six months deployment to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa with "Patrol Squadron 22" that flew surveillance missions along the coast of China. Photo provided

Ensign Bob Thomas, holding Danny his oldest son, and his wife, Cozette, are all smiles in this Navy photo taken in 1953 when he returned to Hawaii after a six months deployment to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa with “Patrol Squadron 22″ that flew surveillance missions along the coast of China. Photo provided

After graduating from Pensacola Naval Air Station in 1951, Ensign Bob Thomas served as a navigator aboard a Navy P-2V, twin-engine “Neptune” bomber. He flew intelligence missions with the “Blue Goose Squadron,” VP-22, part of the “Formosa Straits Patrol Force” that surveilled the China coast. Read the rest of this entry »

My father, Thomas J. Moore, was a pioneer aerial photographer who began his mapping career in World War I

In U.S. Air Force, World War I, World War II on June 17, 2013 at 2:38 am
 This picture was taken in 1942 at Robbins Army Air Base, Warner Robbins, Ga., when my father and Bill Burgess, his pilot, were helping perfect aerial color film for the military. Unfortunately I never asked him about his career in aviation that began shortly after the turn of the century and lasted until 1955.

This picture was taken in 1942 at Robbins Army Air Base, Warner Robbins, Ga., when my father and Bill Burgess, his pilot, were helping perfect aerial color film for the military. Unfortunately I never asked him about his career in aviation that began shortly after the turn of the century and lasted until 1955.

When I wrote this column in 2004 for the Charlotte Sun daily newspaper I was trying to make the point: Don’t do what I did and fail to interview your father about his military service and what he did in life after his time in the military. Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up to the fact until he was gone that my dad played a significant part in the aviation history of this country and had been involved with a number of aviation pioneers during his life on various projects. Read the rest of this entry »

With 3 engines out carrying a load of A-bombs Maj. Nick Firda had a Cold War dilemma

In Distinguished Flying Cross, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on April 22, 2013 at 2:38 am
Firda was flying one of these C-123 twin-engine transports loaded with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. It was his job to spray the enemyinfested jungle with the deadly defoliant so the leaves would fall.  Photo provided

Nick Firda was flying one of these C-123 twin-engine transports loaded with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. It was his job to spray the enemy infested jungle with the deadly defoliant so the leaves would fall. Photo provided

It was the height of the Cold War in the 1960s. Maj. Nick Firda was flying a secret Strategic Air Command mission in a B-52 bomber loaded with atomic bombs across the Atlantic Ocean to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina when an oil pressure problem caused him to shut his first engine down. It would be the start of a long flight. Read the rest of this entry »

Englewood, Fla. man flew B-17 bomber missions over Berlin

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on April 15, 2013 at 2:38 am
Lt. Fred Hocker of Englewood Isles holds one of the blades of a B-17 bomber's engine called "Fightin'-Bitin" on which he served as navigator on during World War II. He was in the 306th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force in Europe. Photo provided

Lt. Fred Hocker of Englewood, Fla. holds one of the blades of a B-17 bomber’s engine called “Fightin’-Bitin'” on which he served as navigator during World War II. He was in the 306th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force in Europe. Photo provided

The six missions Lt. Fred Hocker flew over Berlin with the crew of a B-17 bomber called “Fightin’-Bitin” were the very worst of the 23 combat missions he made as a navigator in the 306 Bomb Group, 8th Air Force during World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

Sgt. Norman Page was a C-130 ‘Cold War’ mechanic and flight engineer

In Cold War, U.S. Air Force on March 27, 2013 at 2:38 am
This was the C-130 "Hercules" crew that flew part of the 500 Belgium paratroopers to the Belgium, Congo to quell a native uprising. Norman is the airman at the far left squatting. Photo provided

This was the C-130 “Hercules” crew that flew part of the 500 Belgium paratroopers to the Belgium, Congo to quell a native uprising. Norman is the airman at the far left squatting. Photo provided

For most of his 24 years of service in the Air Force Sgt. Norman Page kept C-130 “Hercules,’ four-engine transport planes flying as a senior aviation mechanic and flight engineer or crew chief. After graduating from aviation mechanics training his first assignment, a Strategic Air Command mechanic at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa in the early 1950s. Before retiring from the service in 1975, Page had traveled the world in the Air Force while fixing airplanes and crewing in them.

Read the rest of this entry »

He flew as tail gunner in a B-24 ‘Liberator’ in the Pacific dubbed ‘Passionate Witch’

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on March 22, 2013 at 2:38 am
Carl Driver of Alligator Mobile Home Park south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a tailgunner on a B-24 "Liberator" in World War II. He stands beside the nose art on his bomber "Passionate Witch." he flew in the 13th Air Force in the Pacific. Photo provided

Carl Driver of Alligator Mobile Home Park south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a tailgunner on a B-24 “Liberator” in World War II, stands beside the nose art on his bomber “Passionate Witch.” He flew in the 13th Air Force in the Pacific. Photo provided

Carl Driver of Alligator Mobile Home Park on Taylor Road south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was the tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine, heavy bomber dubbed “Passionate Witch.” They were part of the 13 Air Force, 50th Bomb Group, 23 Bomb Squadron that flew from captured island air bases built by the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lt. Clayton Raynes’ Stuttgart mission was worst combat flight he took during WW II

In Distinguished Flying Cross, U.S. Air Force, World War II on March 17, 2013 at 2:38 am
Clayton Raynes of La Casa mobile home park in North Port is pictured as a 22-year-old second lieutenant when he graduated from flight school in 1943 during World War II. Photo provided

Clayton Raynes of La Casa mobile home park in North Port, Fla. is pictured as a 22-year-old second lieutenant when he graduated from flight school in 1943 during World War II. Photo provided

On an overcast April night in 1943 a lone B-17 bomber dubbed “Hotfoot Two” flew from Newfoundland to Greenland on its way to Scotland, Ireland, England and the war zone in Europe. The “Flying Fortress” was destined for the 8th Air Force to became one of the thousands of American, four-engine, heavy bombers to wield Hitler a knockout punch.

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Despite lost engines, Southwest Florida man flew Battle of Bulge

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on March 15, 2013 at 4:38 am
This is the crew of “Silver Chief,” a B-24 in the 458th Bomb Group, 753rd Squadron, 8th Air Force during World War II. Riverwood resident 1st Lt. Ed Sealy, the pilot, is second from the left in the back row. Photo provided

This is the crew of “Silver Chief,” a B-24 in the 458th Bomb Group, 753rd Squadron, 8th Air Force during World War II. Port Charlotte, Fla. resident 1st Lt. Ed Sealy, the pilot, is second from the left in the back row. Photo provided

Their target: A road intersection near Schonberg, Germany, at the close of the Battle of the Bulge. It was Hitler’s last and largest offensive on the western front during World War II, aimed at blunting the allied advance into the “Fatherland.” Read the rest of this entry »

Airman receives Distinguished Flying Cross for raid over oil fields

In Distinguished Flying Cross, U.S. Air Force, World War II on March 1, 2013 at 4:38 am

Jay Taylor FishAlmost 63 years after a bombing raid in a B-24 “Liberator” over German oil refineries in Romania, former Tech. Sgt. Jay T. Fish of Englewood, Fla. received the Distinguished Flying Cross in an elaborate award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2007 along with the other eight members of the bomber’s crew. Read the rest of this entry »

B-24 bomber badly shot up on flight over Berlin

In Distinguished Flying Cross, U.S. Air Force, World War II on February 4, 2013 at 4:38 am
Vincent Durand holds a copy of the local newspaper that says it all: "SURRENDER SIGNED!" This picture was taken at an air base near Madison, Wis., after he returned from his tour with the 8th Air Force in England during World War II. Photo provided

Vincent Durand of Port Charlotte, Fla. holds a copy of the local newspaper that says it all: “SURRENDER SIGNED!” This picture was taken at an air base near Madison, Wis., after he returned from his tour with the 8th Air Force in England during World War II.   Photo provided

Buried in a box of old pictures and military records tucked away in a chest of drawers in Vincent Durand’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home is a medal from long ago.

The bronze medal with its four-bladed airplane propeller was attached to a red, white and blue ribbon — The Distinguished Flying Cross. Read the rest of this entry »

Port Charlotte, Fla. man began military career as ‘Widowmaker’ pilot in WWII

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on January 14, 2013 at 4:37 am
Second Lt. Art Faloris of Rotonda talks to a beautiful Russian army doctor outside a bar in Plzen, Czechoslovakia, near the end of the war in Europe during World War II. Photo provided

Second Lt. Art Folaros of Port Charlotte, Fla. talks to a beautiful Russian army doctor outside a bar in Plzen, Czechoslovakia, near the end of the war in Europe during World War II. Photo provided

Second Lt. Art Folaros of Port Charlotte, Fla. went to Europe in 1944 and trained to fly a B-26 twin-engine Marauder attack-bomber nicknamed the “Widowmaker” to provide tactical air support for Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army. Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Jaworek flew bombers and transports in WW II, Berlin Airlift, Korea and Cuban Missile Crisis

In Cuban Missle Crisis, Korean War, U.S. Air Force, World War II on January 2, 2013 at 4:38 am
Ed Jaworek learned to fly this PT-17 biplane at Carlstrom Field in Arcadia in 1942. He flew a Mitchell B-25 attack bomber during the war. Photo provided

Ed Jaworek learned to fly this Stearman PT-17 biplane at Carlstrom Field in Arcadia, Fla.  in 1942. He flew a Mitchell B-25 attack bomber during the war. Photo provided

Ed Jaworek was a co-pilot who flew a Mitchell B-25 twin-engine attack bomber on low-level combat missions for the 8th Air Force in Europe during World War II. He took part in the Berlin Air Lift, in 1949 and piloted a C-46 twin-engine “Commando” transport in and out of Berlin. When the Korean war rolled around, in the 1950s, he flew a medical air transport C-47 “Gooney Bird” during the last months of that war. A C-119 “Flying Boxcar” was his plane during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Read the rest of this entry »

North Port, Fla. man flew 34 combat missions in a B-24 over Nazi-occupied Europe

In Distinguished Flying Cross, U.S. Air Force, World War II on December 28, 2012 at 4:38 am
Lt. Adam Kubinciak is presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Lt. Col. William D. Kyle during a ceremony late in the war. He received the commendation for saving his crew when his B-25 caught fire shortly after takeoff from England. Photo provided

Lt. Adam Kubinciak is presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Lt. Col. William D. Kyle during a ceremony late in the war. He received the commendation for saving his crew when his B-25 caught fire shortly after takeoff from England. Photo provided

First Lt. Adam Kubinciak was the pilot of a B-24 “Liberator” bomber named “Miss Liberty,” part of the 706th Bomb Squadron, 446 Bomb Group, 8th Air Force stationed at Bungay, in southwestern England, during World War II. Read the rest of this entry »

Joe McKenney helped kept Military Air Lift Command flying at end of WWII

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on December 26, 2012 at 4:38 am
Joe McKenney of Arcadia was a 19-year-old warrant officer working on the flight line for the Air Traffic Command in Casablanca, Morocco in 1945 when this picture was taken. Photo provided

Joe McKenney of Arcadia, Fla. was a 19-year-old warrant officer working on the flight line for the Air Traffic Command in Casablanca, Morocco in 1945 when this picture was taken. Photo provided

Joe McKenney of Arcadia, Fla. had just graduated from aviation training at Manhattan High School in New York City in 1943 when he enrolled in the Emergency Defense Training Program to become an aviation mechanic. Read the rest of this entry »

Man flew some of Merrill’s Marauders to safety

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on December 17, 2012 at 4:38 am
Sgt. Pete Chisholm of Port Charlotte with his spotted leopard. He got the cat while serving near Calcutta, India, during World War II. Photo provided by Pete Chisholm

Sgt. Pete Chisholm of Port Charlotte, Fla. with his spotted leopard. He got the cat while serving near Calcutta, India, during World War II. Photo provided by Pete Chisholm

It wasn’t the brightest move on his part, former Sgt. Pete Chisholm admitted more than 60 years later in the comfort of his Southwest Fla. apartment.

“I volunteered to help some of Merrill’s Marauders out. At the time I was an engineer on a C-47 (twin-engine transport) flying out of Dum-Dum Air Base just outside Calcutta. On most of the 47 combat missions I flew with the 846th Air Force Base Unit, we brought in soldiers and medical supplies,” the 85-year-old resident of Essex House said.

This flight was different. Read the rest of this entry »

Maj. Gen. Richard Carr flew F-4s and F-16 fighters in war and peace

In Cuban Missle Crisis, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on December 14, 2012 at 4:38 am
Col. Dick Carr of Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, Fla., is pictured in the driver's seat of an F-4 Phantom fighter he flew during the Vietnam War. Photo provided by Dick Carr

Col. Dick Carr of Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, Fla., is pictured in the driver’s seat of an F-4 Phantom fighter he flew during the Vietnam War. Photo provided by Dick Carr

Retired Maj. Gen. Richard Carr of Burnt Store Isles was among the U.S. Air Force Academy’s first graduates in 1959. He spent much of his 35-year military career preparing to fight a war with the Soviet Union that never happened.

In 1962, he was involved in the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” Read the rest of this entry »

Capt. Jean Carr was Air Force nurse during Cuban Missle Crisis and Vietnam War

In Cuban Missle Crisis, U.S. Air Force, Vietnam War on December 12, 2012 at 4:38 am
Jean Carr of Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, is pictured in the 1960s in her Air Force nurse dress uniform, complete with white gloves during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Photo provided by Jean Carr

Jean Carr of Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, Fla., is pictured in the 1960s in her Air Force nurse dress uniform, complete with white gloves during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Photo provided by Jean Carr

Jean Carr was an Air Force nurse during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

“I wanted to be a history teacher, but my patents didn’t have the money to send me to college for four years. They decided my twin sister, Joan, and I could both become nurses. So we went to St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Peoria, Ill. for three years and became RNs. It was the best decision they ever made,” the 74-year-old nurse explained sitting at the dining table in her Burnt Store Isles home south of Punta Gorda, Fla. Read the rest of this entry »

Aviator recalls life and B-29 bombers on Tinian Island

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on December 10, 2012 at 4:38 am
Guice Johnson graduated from the Aviation Cadet Program during World War II. He was a bombardier flying raids over Japan in a B-29 "Superfortress." Photo provided

Guice Johnson graduated from the Aviation Cadet Program during World War II. He was a bombardier flying raids over Japan in a B-29 “Superfortress.” Photo provided

1st. Lt. Guice Johnson was the bombardier on the 12-man crew of the first B-29 to land on Tinian Island during the closing months of World War II.

In fact, when Capt. Walter Schroder put down the wheels, the Seabees were still working to build the runway. Read the rest of this entry »

He bombed Tokyo – 1st Lt. Bob Althoff flew 35 missions over Japan in a B-29 ‘Superfortress’

In U.S. Air Force, World War II on November 30, 2012 at 4:38 am
Bob Althoff of River Haven Mobile Home Park, south of Punta Gorda, FL holds on to "Duke V," his 109-pound pet Doberman. The octogenarian piloted a B-29 "Superfortress" on 35 missions over Japan during the closing months of World War II. Sun photo by Don Moore

Bob Althoff of River Haven Mobile Home Park, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. holds on to “Duke V,” his 109-pound pet Doberman. The octogenarian piloted a B-29 “Superfortress” bomber on 35 missions over Japan during the closing months of World War II. Sun photo by Don Moore

Old “Iron Pants” decreed that the B-29 bombers would fly firebomb raids over Tokyo at 7,000 feet after taking command of the 20th Air Force. The “Superfortress” crews had been flying raids at 25,000 feet, Bob Althoff, pilot of one of the bombers, recalled decades later. Read the rest of this entry »

He flew with 4 presidents aboard Air Force One – Sgt. John Hames was steward on presidents’ plane

In U.S. Air Force on November 19, 2012 at 4:38 am

President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, and their entourage visit the Great Wall of China. In the crowd was Sgt. John Harms of Port Charlotte, Fla., who served aboard Air Force One, the presidential airplane. Photo provided

Second of two parts

For 15 years Sgt. John Hames of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a flight steward aboard Air Force One. Read the rest of this entry »

He flew to Dallas with President Kennedy on Air Force One: Staff Sgt. John Hames was a steward on JFK’s plane

In U.S. Air Force on November 16, 2012 at 4:38 am

John Hames of Port Charlotte, Fla. holds a framed thank-you note from Jacqueline Kennedy he received from the former first lady. Above is the president’s picture. Sun photo by Paul Schmidt

First of two parts

When President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline flew to Dallas 40 years ago on a campaign swing through Texas, Sgt. John Hames was the flight steward aboard Air Force One. Read the rest of this entry »

Cold War pilot tells of time in the sky

In Air National Guard, Cold War, U.S. Air Force on October 22, 2012 at 4:38 am

Lt. Bob Thompson is pictured in his graduation photo after he received his fighter pilot wings in 1957. Photo provided by Robert Thompson

Maj. Robert Thompson was a citizen soldier and a “week-end warrior” — a member of the 141st Tactical Fighter Squadron of the New Jersey Air National Guard based at McGuire Air Force Base in central New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry »

He flew The Hump 160 times – ‘I flew into the middle of a squadron of Japanese Zeros ‘ – Col. Baxendale

In Distinguished Flying Cross, Korean War, U.S. Air Force, World War II on October 5, 2012 at 4:38 am

Lt. Col. Tom Baxendale of Port Charlotte, Fla. flew almost two dozen different military airplanes during his military career that spans World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Photo provided by Tom Baxendale

On one of the 160 missions he flew over “The Hump,” Lt. Col. Tom Baxendale ran head-on into a flight of Japanese Zero fighters. He was piloting an unarmed C-46 twin-engine transport loaded with 55-gallon drums of gas. Read the rest of this entry »

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