After his first mission over Germany as a navigator aboard a B-17 bomber during World War II, 1st Lt. Ray Griffith of Lake Suzy, Fla. wrote in a pocket notebook he carried during the war: ‘I’m not going to survive my tour.’”
From U.S. Army Air Force
Joe Comeaux flew C-130 transports in Vietnam with 776 Tactical Airlift Squadron
Joe Comeaux of Punta Gorda got out of high school in ’69, just in time for the last of the Vietnam War.
He kept the ‘big wigs’ smiling when they came to U-Tapao Air Force Base, Thailand
Charles Evans of Punta Gorda, Fla. graduated in 1962 from Colorado State University with a degree in Civil Engineering in one hand and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force in the other with a three year commitment.
Lt. Matt Williams flew a B-24 on 35 combat missions over Europe during WW II
1st Lt. Matt Williams of Englewood, Fla. flew his first combat mission piloting a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber over Nazi-occupied France during the D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944, along the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
Sgt. Bob Werner printed top secret aerial photos of Russian bases during ‘Cold War’
A Canadian resident with an American father who met his mother while living in the Montreal area, Bob Werner of Bay Indies Mobile Home Park was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force in 1946. He ended up in Sheppard Field, near Wichita Falls, Texas for basic which was the beginning of a series of…
Troop Carrier Wing kept MacArthur’s ‘island hopping’ going – Sgt. Harold Hayden was a flight engineer on a C-47
Harold Hayden of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a flight engineer aboard a C-47 twin-engine transport plane attached to Troop Carrier Wing 322, 374th Group, 24th Squadron, part of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s army in the Southwest Pacific during World War II.
Port Charlotte, Fla. man served in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army during World War
The first day former Sgt. Mike Labick arrived in Normandy in September 1944 he wound up in a front line foxhole at Saint-Lo as a newly-minted member of Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.
POW writes diary while in WW II prison camp – Lt. Martin Fetherolf writes about his B-17 going down
“The DAY of Aug. 17, 1943 was to be, perhaps the most important and certainly the most eventful of my life to date,” the late Martin Fetherolf of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. wrote in his “War Log” from Stalag Luft-3 in the heart of Germany during World War II. It’s where he spent most of…
‘Sky Queen’ almost shot down by German 88s
This interview first appeared in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, March 5, 2006 and is republished with permission. Learning to fly a Stearman PT-17 “Kaydet” fabric-covered, two-seat biplane at Carlstrom Field in Arcadia, Fla. in 1943 was a far cry from piloting a B-26 “Marauder” twin-engine attack bomber against a heavily…
Englewood man flew 18.5-hour bombing mission in B-24 to knock out Japanese oil refinery
Hager Blair of Quails Run condominium in Englewood, Fla. was a Kentucky country boy who lied about his age and joined the Army at 16. After graduating from radio school, he volunteered for aerial gunnery school and ended up in 1942 taking gunnery training in Fort Myers, Fla.
Cpl. Willard Irwin was member of ‘Desert Air Force’ in North Africa in WW II
Cpl. Willard Irwin was a member of the 64th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group that provided tactical air support for British Gen. Bernard Montgomery’s 8th Army during the North African Campaign in World War II. They were known as “The Desert Air Force.”
Dutch Underground rescued B-17 crew
Second Lt. Leonard Pogue knew he and the other eight members of his B-17 bomber crew were in for a bad day when they were informed of their target. For the second day in a row, the crew of “Straighten Up and Fly Right” was ordered, along with the rest of the 493rd Bomb Group,…
A ‘Guest’ of the Fuhrer
They were supposed to fly their final bombing mission, their 35th, over Cologne, Germany on Friday 13th, 1944. They didn’t do it. That was a big mistake.