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 »
Archive for the ‘U.S. Air Force’ Category
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 »
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 planeIn U.S. Air Force on November 16, 2012 at 4:38 am
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 »
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 »
Two days before VJ-Day, Japan’s surrender ending World War II, former Lt. Chuck Rauch, of Punta Gorda, Fla. was flying as navigator in an all black B-24 “Liberator” bomber. He was on a night mission to attack shipping at the north end of Ie Shima Island, part of the Japanese home islands. Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Springer will never forget his first night on Iwo Jima, March 1, 1945. Read the rest of this entry »
Cpl. Arnold Heins escaped death when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 61 years ago today because he had just gotten off dining room duty at the mess hall at Hickam Field in Honolulu. Read the rest of this entry »
First Lt. Bob Normile, now living in Pine Brook in Venice, Fla. was copilot of the C-54 that flew Gen. Douglas MacArthur from Manila to Okinawa, Japan on Aug. 28, 1945, for the surrender ceremony ending World War II. Read the rest of this entry »
Sgt. Ed Schuppenhouer was part of what was called, “McNamara’s Last Chance” when he served as a counter-insurgency specialist aboard an EC-121R four-engine Super Constellation in Vietnam in 1967-68. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jim Hussmann
Special to the Sun
After graduating from the Air Corps’ Navigation School in San Marcos, Texas in December 1944, Jim Hussmann of Plantation Golf and Country Club south of Venice, Fla. was ordered to report to Alamogordo, N.M., where he and 10 other airmen specialists were to begin training as B-29 bomber combat crew. Read the rest of this entry »
P-47 Thunderbolt squadron cleared way for Patton – 2nd Lt. Bill Wells flew offense at Battle of the BulgeIn U.S. Air Force, World War II on March 5, 2012 at 4:38 am
For their support of Gen. George Patton ‘s 3rd Army that stopped the German offense in World War II at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge , 2nd Lt. Bill Wells’ P-47 Thunderbolt squadron received a Presidential Unit Citation. Read the rest of this entry »
Ted Weatherhead was a 21-year-old green 2nd lieutenant and co-pilot of a C-47, twin-engine, transport plane — a member of the 316th Troop Carrier Group, 44th Troop Carrier Wing, 9th Air Force — that dropped 19 fully-equipped 101st Airborne paratroopers behind enemy lines on D-Day hours before the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy in World War II. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Billy’s Filly’ was the most beautiful and best fighter in WWII’ – Bill Fowkes of Punta Gorda flew 37 combat missions in this P-38 LightningIn U.S. Air Force, World War II on January 9, 2012 at 4:38 am
“Billy’s Filly” is what he called her. She was the sleekest, most beautiful, best fighter plane there was in World War II, according to Col. William Fowkes of Punta Gorda, Fla., U.S. Air Force retired. Read the rest of this entry »
A gorgeous but lethal P-51 Mustang fighter plane knifing its way through puffy white clouds seemed to fly off the wall at De Carter Brown’s Port Charlotte, Fla. studio. Read the rest of this entry »
Sam Harris of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. began his military career as a cable-splicer in the Army National Guard in 1970 and ended up in 1979 as a captain in the Air Force. He flew giant C-141 “Starlifter,” four-engine, jet transport planes around the world. In between he has lived a life filled with exciting incidents that propelled him into an airlines career in which he’s flow the globe these last four decades. Read the rest of this entry »
David McKalip flew 30 combat missions as a radio operator on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber during World War II. The mission that made the biggest impression on him 65 years later was the flight that leveled Dresden, Germany. Read the rest of this entry »
EDITOR’S NOTE: Second of a two-part story.
When the Korean War broke out in June 1950 George Hardy’s World War II service was long behind him. He flew a P-51 “Mustang” in the 99th Fighter Squadron as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black fighter group, during the Second World War. Read the rest of this entry »
1st Lt. Thelma Daida was a surgical nurse working in the only in-country U.S. Army Air Force Hospital in Vietnam in 1965 located on the giant airbase at Cam Rahn Bay. It was an exciting time to be a 20-year-old nurse serving in Southeast Asia. Read the rest of this entry »
The barrel of Cpl. Sam Burns’ .50 caliber machine-gun glowed red from the heat of 1,000 bullets. He was firing at the twin-engine German JU-88 “Junkers” bombers strafing their artillery outfit in the Tunisian desert of North African in December 1942. Read the rest of this entry »
Tom Cory of Buttonwood Village mobile home park, Punta Gorda was an aviation mechanic who kept a “Tornado,” B-45C, atomic bomber flying. It was America’s first four-engine jet bomber built during the Korean War era of the early 1950s to deliver an A-bomb to an enemy target. Read the rest of this entry »
Lt. Fred Buckingham flew his C-130 “Hercules,” four-engine transport plane to Vietnam just in time for the North Vietnamese Army’s siege of the Marine base at Khe Sanh, the biggest single battle of the war, and the enemy’s massive Tet Offensive, where every major city and many American military bases were attacked in a countrywide coordinated assault. Read the rest of this entry »