2LT Vernal J. Bird

2018-6-1 Bird

In 1941 he enlisted in the army and attended Field Artillery School. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. His training took him many places in the western U.S. and finally to South Carolina and Georgia.

On March 12, 1944 he was on his eighth mission flying his A-20G Havoc over Boram Airstrip near Wewak, Papua New Guinea. His plane began lagging behind. The plane was subsequently lost in the Prince Alexander Range. It was decades before a Papuan national found the crash site.

Remains and data plates from the engines were turned over to recovery teams and then to JPAC Central Identification Laboratory, Hickam Field, Hawaii. Positive identification was confirmed on August 28, 2013 by his sister Elaine.

Numerous family members and friends, many who never met him, have mourned his loss and worried about the circumstances for 69 years. Those who knew him remember well his kindness and friendship to people of all ages.

We honor you, Vernal Bird.

(#Repost @The Daily Herald)

Capt Edward A Nachowitz

2018-5-25 Nachowitz

Nachowitz was assigned to 93TCS, 439TCG, 9AF USAAF. He completed 4 x combat missions, with 500+ combat hrs. He failed to Return (FTR) on a re-supply mission to Bastogne, towing 2 Waco gliders.He was hit by flak in fuel tanks, broke formation and released gliders, allowing crew to bale. Nachowitz remained at controls to ensure crews departure, and was subsequently killed in the crash.

We honor you, Edward Nachowitz.

(#Repost @American Air Museum in Britain)

TSgt Charles Luther Blount

2018-3-22 Blount

Charles Blount was often the last person to see a paratrooper as he dove out of the plane over a drop zone. “I counted them as they went out,” Blount says, detailing the events that took place aboard his plane in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. From Normandy to Holland to the Battle of the Bulge, Blount saw the beginning of three major campaigns for victory in Europe. The following is the record of the plane crash he was involved in:

The plane was loaded with approximately 150-200 Jerry cans of gasoline. As Lt Estelle lowered the landing gear and made his approach to land, he instructed his crew chief to look out the glass dome for enemy planes. Charles Blount spotted two ME-109s behind and above them. He dropped to the floor and attempted to shout a warning, but 20MM explosive rounds were already ripping through the plane. A fragment from an exploding round struck TSgt Blount in the shoulder. The impact drove him back to the floor, landing behind the co-pilot’s seat. He managed to get into the cockpit and found the pilot and co-pilot uninjured. The pilot had shut all systems down to reduce the danger of fire inside the plane. One wing was ablaze as the pilot made a safe landing. In the words of TSgt Blount, “they landed without spilling a single can of gasoline.”

Later TSgt Blount found the base of the 20MM exploding round inside the plane, which he kept as a souvenir. The fragment in his shoulder remained there the rest of his life.

In 1981 in a bar, in Michigan, two men struck up a conversation. One said he had grown up in Germany, but now lived in the US and practiced law. The two men were about the same age which caused the second man to ask if the lawyer had been in the war. He stated he had been a fighter pilot. The second man said he had also been a C-47 pilot. The German said “I shot down a C-47 one morning near Kassel, Germany.”

The two pilots had first met 26 years earlier in the air near Kassel, Germany as war time enemies.

We honor you, Charles Blount.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project and National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)

 

CPT Elsie S. Ott

2018-3-2 Ott

During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corps pioneered military medical care through the development of air evacuations of wounded personnel. Contributing to this was 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott, a flight nurse on the first intercontinental air evacuation flight that demonstrated the potential of air evacuation. Born in 1913 in Smithtown, N.Y, Ott attended Lenox Hill Hospital School of Nursing in New York City after completing high school.

After several positions in area hospitals, Ott joined the Army Nurse Corps in September 1941. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant soon after and had assignments to Louisiana and Virginia before being sent to Karachi, India. It was during this assignment that she would participate in the first air evacuation. Originating from Karachi, India, patients were evacuated to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Ott was assigned to the flight with only 24 hours’ notice. Prior to this she had no flying experience and had never flown before. She gathered blankets, sheets and pillows for the trip, but the only medical equipment available to her was nothing more than a first aid kit. No medical professional screened the patients who were to fly with Ott, and she and a sergeant with a medical background were the only people on board to care for patients.

The plane left Karachi with five wounded personnel Jan. 17, 1943. Of those five, two were paralyzed from the waist down, one suffered from tuberculosis, another with glaucoma and the fifth was suffering manic-depressive psychosis. After stops along the way for refueling, the plane reached its destination nearly a week after beginning — normally a three month trip by ship.

Ott knew that her report on the trip would be crucial for further planning, and she immediately sat down to make notes for future flights. Among the suggestions she listed were the need for oxygen, more wound dressing supplies, extra coffee and blankets. She also noted that wearing a skirt was impractical for this kind of duty.

Two months later, Ott received the first U.S. Air Medal, the first given to a woman in the U.S. Army, for her role in the evacuation flight. She would later be promoted to captain before being discharged in 1946. Nearly 20 years later in 1965, Ott was selected to christen a new type of air ambulance: the C-9 Nightingale.

We honor you, Elsie Ott.

(#Repost @Military.com)

VADM H. Denby Starling, II

2018-2-7 Starling

Vice Adm. (ret) Starling began his last assignment as commander of Navy Cyber Forces at its establishment on Jan. 26, 2010. There he was responsible for organizing and prioritizing manpower, training, modernization and maintenance requirements for networks and cryptologic, space, intelligence and information operations capabilities. He concurrently served as commander Naval Network Warfare Command, where he oversaw the conduct of Navy network and space operations.

Starling is a native of Virginia Beach, Va., and was commissioned through the University of Virginia NROTC program in 1974. He was designated a naval flight officer in March 1975 and a naval aviator in March 1983, flying the A-6 Intruder with the Black Falcons of Attack Squadron (VA) 85, the Golden Intruders of VA-128 and the Milestones of VA-196.

Outside of the cockpit, Starling served on the staff of Medium Attack Tactical Electronic Warfare Wing, Pacific, as a student at the Naval War College, where he graduated with highest distinction and as the commissioning executive officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). His first flag assignment was to NATO in Northwood, U.K., as the assistant chief of staff, Operations, Intelligence and Exercises, for the Commander in Chief East Atlantic/Commander Allied Naval Forces Northern Europe.

Starling commanded VA-145 aboard USS Ranger (CV 61) during Operation Desert Storm, USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Carrier Group 8/George Washington Carrier Strike Group and Naval Air Force Atlantic.

Starling’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (5), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Combat V (3 Individual/ 3 Strike/Flight), Navy Commendation Medal (3/2 with Combat V) and the Navy Achievement Medal.

(#Repost @Navy.mil)

CPL Charles F. Bahde

2018-1-22 Bahde

Decorated World War II veteran, industrial designer, builder, real estate investor/entrepreneur, world traveler, artist, philanthropist, devoted husband and family man.

He became an Eagle Scout and when he was 16. He was an “all-city” running-guard on his Milwaukee high school football team. Bahde began taking flying lessons with the Civil Air Patrol, in the hope of becoming a fighter pilot. World War II was raging in the Pacific and Europe.

When he was 17 and still in high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an Air Cadet – only to learn afterwards that he had been offered an athletic scholarship for football and track at the University of Wisconsin.

He ended up training as a belly-gunner. Instead of being assigned to a bomber, he was sent on an invading convoy to Iwo Jima, a Japanese-held volcanic island where some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific took place.

It was unique for a member of the Air Force to wade ashore off a landing barge with Marines following the initial assault. On Iwo Jima, Bahde, a corporal and Armorer, was assigned to servicing and loading the .50 caliber guns on P-51 fighter planes.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and a Presidential Citation for pulling four survivors out of a burning B-29 bomber that had crash-landed on the field where he was working. He himself was badly burned. His honorary plaque is at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in La Jolla.

We honor you, Charles Bahde.
(#Repost @sdnews.com)

SPC John A. Vargas

2018-1-20 Vargas

John was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA, and was raised in NYC. After his military service he earned a degree in marketing.

He was “drafted” into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis, Wash. while serving in Vietnam, he voluntarily transferred to the 25th Division 3/4 Air Cavalry, aka Centaurs. John was a door gunner on a Huey gunship that was consistently engaged in daily and nightly raids.

On May 19, 1967, while on a combat mission in the Hobo Woods, South Vietnam, John was seriously injured, sustaining bullet wounds to his right shoulder. In spite of his wounds, he continued to engage the enemy with M60 tracers while making their position with smoke grenades. Subsequently, he saved the other three crew members while assisting to kill at least 17 Vietcong. For his bravery and dedication to duty, along with the Purple Heart, John was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for Valor. He is one of a few in the Army to have received the DFC, which is usually awarded to an Air Force pilot.

While in Colorado he joined the executive staff, eventually retiring from a technical college as director of placement. Always being community minded; John was a volunteer with the Colorado Springs Police Department. He is a member of Highlands Ranch, Colo., American Legion Post 1260, VVA 1106 and PH Chapter 1041.

We honor you, John Vargas.

(#Repost @The American Legion)