Captain Richard Fleitscher flew with the 349th over New Guinea. He flew 202 missions and got 6 kills
Brig. Gen Les Smith was a 2nd Lt in the 56th FG where he got 7 kills
Lt Bob Milliken – 5 victory Ace with the 474th FG, ET. Flew support over Normandy on D-Day
November 9, 2008
The Hiller Aviation Museum
CDR Bill Hardy – 6.5 victory Hellcat Ace
LT Jim Pearce – 5.25 victory Hellcat Ace
LT CDR Billy Watts – 8.75 victory Hellcat Ace
Presented by the Northern California Friends of the American Fighter Aces Association
October 21, 2007
The Hiller Aviation Museum
These men are amazing guys and I was fortunate enough to meet them. They are all Navy WWII aces from the Pacific theater. Diz Laird fought in the North Sea against the Luftwaffe and made kills there before going to the Pacific.
Captain Joe McGraw – 5 victory FM-2 Wildcat Ace with VC-10. While in a battle over Leyte in the Phillipines, his carrier, the Gambier Bay, was sunk! He barely made it to another carrier before running out of fuel.
Captain Robert Duncan – 7 victory F6F Hellcat Ace with VF-5. He became the first ace of the USS Yorktown on February 16 of 1944 when he shot down his fifth Japanese plane. Duncan would go on to shoot down two more before the war's end. He got his first aerial kill over Wake Island.
Commander Alex Vraciu – 19 victory Hellcat Ace with VF-6, VF-16He shot down six Japanese "JUDY" dive bombers in a span of eight minutes during the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19 June 1944. Got his first kill over Wake Island.
Captain L.D. "Del" Prater – 8.5 victory Hellcat Ace with VF-19
Commander Diz Laird – 5.75 victory Hellcat Ace with VF-4 One of two US Naval Aviators with victories over the Luftwaffe and the Japanese!
The TV show "Dogfights" had a great episode called "The Zero Killer". It was about the Hellcat and has awesome recreations of the battles and interviews of these guys. You can see the clips on YouTube here:
"An Innocent at Polebrook"
On February 9th, 2008 I met Charles Stephens who was a B-17 bombardier in 8th Air Force, 351st Bomb Group, 509th Squadron. He told some amazing stories of his 34 missions. He also wrote a great book called "An Innocent at Polebrook." I really liked his book .
The Collings Foundation brought their B-17, B-24, B-25, and their P-51C to Moffett Field and we went there after Young Eagles on Saturday the 17th. The P-51C is a dual control. I wish it would do Young Eagles!
The bombers were great especially when they did flybys but the best part was listening to the stories from the WWII veterans.
Jack Burke is a really nice guy. He was a ball turret gunner in B-17's for 27 missions during 1943. He had amazing stories about battles and adventures. These included getting shot down over France and bailing out of a damaged plane in England. I really hope to be able to interview him soon.
I did get to interview Jack Burke! Read it here Jack Burke
This was Jack's office. Two .50 caliber guns beside his head, no flak vest, and no parachute.
Les Williams was a B-25 bomber pilot. You can read my interview of him here
Chuck Yeager after his first kill in WWII