From U.S. Army Air Corps

George Hardy of Sarasota was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II

EDITOR’S NOTE: First of a two-part story. George Hardy of Sarasota, Fla. was a Tuskegee Airman. The retired lieutenant colonel began his military career as a member of the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron, flying 21 combat missions over Germany during the final two months before V-E Day in World War II in a P-51 “Mustang” fighter plane.

George Lentz was B-17 top turret gunner in 8th Air Force

George Lentz of Rotonda, Fla. was a staff sergeant in the 385th Bomb Group, 549th Bomb Squadron, 92nd Wing of the 8th Air Force in World War II. He flew 29 combat missions as an engineer and top turret gunner in a B-17 “Flying Fortress” at the end of the war from a base near…

He twice crashed in B-24s and shot down 2 German fighter planes

Former Staff Sgt. Charlie Collins of Brookside Bluff mobile home park north of Arcadia was a member of “The Cottontails.” He flew as nose gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber during World War II. His bomb group had cotton bulbs painted on their tails, thus the “Cottontails” moniker.

Lt. Charles Bailey in his flying gear with his boot on the wheel of the P-51 Mustang named for his father. He shot down a German fighter flying this plane while serving in the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron in Europe during World War II.

Last of the 7 Bailey Brothers was Tuskegee Airman

Lt. Charles Bailey, Sr. was the last of the line. He was the last of Punta Gorda, Fla.’s “Fighting Bailey Brothers.” The last of a family of seven sons and two daughters who distinguished themselves in war and in life during World War II, Korea and much of the 20th Century.

Airman first meets Lindbergh flying P-38 fighters in Port Moresby, New Guinea

Von Spahr, an Englewood, Fla. retiree, was a 19-year-old armorer in 1943 attached to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, 5th Air Corps based at Port Moresby, New Guinea during World War II.  His company commander told him to take a Jeep and pick up a pilot flying into the local airstrip in a P-38 Lightning fighter plane and bring him back to the squadron’s ready room.