Charles Hall of Sarasota was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in 1967 during the war in Vietnam. He flew for Marine Helicopter Squadron 163 out of Phu Bai.
Midway was the decisive battle in the Pacific during Wolrd War II. Cpl. Gasper Buffa who serve in the U.S. Marine Corps was in the thick of it.
Clifford Hill, a former resident of Englewood, who now lives in Venice, Fla, flew a P-47 Thunderbolt and later a P-51 Mustang fighter plane in Europe during World War II. He was a member of the 318th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group of the 15th Air Force in North Africa and Italy. This is his…
Floyd Coffield underwent his baptism of fire on a bombing raid over Ploesti, Romania, flying a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber on May 18, 1944. Some 600 B-24s and B-17 “Flying Fortresses” bombed Ploesti in an attempt to knock out the refineries. The German war machine derived one-third of its oil supply from Ploesti.
It was All Souls Day, Nov. 2, 1944, Francis Murphy remembers most about his 26 combat missions as tail gunner in a “Flying Fortress,” over Germany late in World War II.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, when tens of thousands of Allied troops were storming the beaches of Normandy, France, Staff Sgt. Wilbur Butler was flying as nose gunner aboard a B-24 bomber called “Boobie Trap” on a mission to bomb the Ploesti oil refineries in Romania.
Ernest Erickson flew a “Flying Fortress,” four-engine bomber dubbed “Lili of the Lamplight,” from a base near Ipswich, England on 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe in 1943 and ’44 during World War II. It was one of thousands of B-17s flown by the 8th Air Force that devastated Germany.
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.
Almost 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.
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.
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.
Ret. Staff Sgt. Linwood Brown of Punta Gorda, Fla. was tail gunner in “Leggy Lady,” a B-25 Mitchell medium attack bomber, part of the 10th Air Force flying bombing raids in the China, Burma, India Theater in Burma, China and Thailand in late 1944 and almost until the end of World War II in ’45.
“We were flying over Rabaul at 15,000 feet and went into a dive in our (Douglas Dauntless) SBD dive bombers. Suddenly, I saw this Japanese Zero coming toward me. The pilot looked right at me as I started firing,” former Sgt. Mel Clark recalled six decades later.
Like a lot of other young men his age, Ed Lukach wanted to be a pilot when he signed up at 19 for the Army’s Aviation Cadet Program in 1942 near the start of World War II.
Warrant Officer Mike Goff never saw “The Valley of Death.” He wasn’t one of the 400 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Division surrounded and attacked by 2,000 North Vietnam soldiers at the La Drang Valley in mid-November 1965.
Bill Schultz flew from a field in Foggia, Italy, as the pilot of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” in World War II. The 87-year-old North Port, Fla. resident, who lives in the Lazy River manufactured home park, was a member of the 301st Bomb Group, 419th Bomb Squadron, 15th Air Force 65 years ago.
The cheap, cerise-colored, aluminum bracelet on her right arm was battered and worn. Every day for the past 25 years, Vera Creed of Port Charlotte, Fla. has had it on.
Bill Lutgen of Venice, Fla. flew 378 combat missions in an A-37 fighter-bomber in Vietnam, received three Distinguish Flying Crosses and 19 Air Medals for his efforts and retired from the Air Force after 20 years in the service.
Lt. Chuck Hofelich was a “Thud” driver and proud of it. He flew an F-105 “Thunderchief” supersonic fighter-bomber, he and his jet jockey buddies called “Thuds” on 79 combat missions over North Vietnam.