For almost three decades Ron Klein of Port Charlotte, Fla. was involved in some of this country’s major military actions. Too young for Vietnam, he joined the Air Force in 1977 as an 18-year-old bomb loader. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the ‘U.S. Air Force’ Category
By D-Day, June 6, 1944, former 1st Lt. John Nemeth of Port Charlotte, Fla. had flown 40 combat mission over Nazi-occupied Europe in a Martin B-26 “Marauder” bomber named “Johnny Come Lately.” He would fly 27 more in his bomber dubbed “The Widowmaker” by some because of its propensity to crash during takeoffs and landings. Read the rest of this entry »
1st Lt. Wallace Spencer of Tangerine Woods in Englewood, Fla. was on his 28th and last combat mission on March 24, 1945 when the B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber he served as bombardier in was shot out of the sky at 20,000 feet by anti-aircraft flak while bombing a railroad marshaling yard in Münster, Germany. Read the rest of this entry »
Doug Danforth of Englewood, Fla. was a precocious kid. He graduated from high school at 15, joined the United States Air Force at 17 and went to war with the 27th Fighter Escort Wing, 8th Air Force in Korea on Dec. 7, 1950. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 »
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 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 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 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 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 »
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 »
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.
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.
“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’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 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 IslandIn U.S. Air Force, World War II on February 3, 2014 at 1:38 am
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 »
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.
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 »
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
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 1942In U.S. Air Force, World War II on August 12, 2013 at 1:38 am
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 »
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 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’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.
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 IIn U.S. Air Force, World War I, World War II on June 17, 2013 at 2:38 am
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 »
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 »
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »