About

Honored Veterans

Vito Aloisio

LCDR Ret., flew PV-1 bombers in the Pacific War, seaplanes in Korea, helicopters in Vietnam, and airships for the Navy in a career spanning 21 years.

Donald Baechle

Joined the US Navy at 17 years old. Started with amphibians then was assigned to a mine sweeper. Did not see action and feels he was lucky about that. As the war ended was assigned alongside the occupation forces cleaning up the mine fields in Japan.

William A. ‘Bill’ Barr

US Navy pilot of PB4Y, PBM and PV in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific from 1942 to 1945. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

William Barr Veterans History Project

Gordon K. Beard

A B-17 pilot with the 457th Bomb Group in the European Theater. Went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force for 40 years, 21 as a pilot and 19 as a civilian with Air Force Intelligence.

Albert Blair

Master Sergeant, B-24 Crew Chief, 13th Air Force, 4th Photographic Reconnaissance and Mapping Group.

Ray Blankenship

USS Hancock (CV-19) part of the 3rd and 5th fleets, off the coast of Japan. Entered Tokyo Bay just after the Peace treaty was signed. Entered the Navy on his 17th birthday, discharged March 1946 still a teenager. Trained in aircraft maintenance and anti-aircraft gunnery. Flew in training flights in SBD Dauntless and TBM Avenger dive bombers.

Donald C. ‘Don’ Brandt

US Navy pilot flying from the USS Hornet (CV-12),  Don flew Hellcats and Corsairs. He was shot down off the coast of Guam and rescued by the submarine USS Swordfish (SS-193) by clinging to the periscope while being towed to safety.  Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Donald Brandt Veterans History Project Interview

Louis Breckenridge

B-25 pilot in the European Theater with 68 missions along the German supply lines in the Brenner Pass between the border of Austria and Italy. 447th Squadron of the 321st Bomb Group. Primary flight training was in PT-17 Stearman, basic training was in the Vultee BT-13 and Advanced flight training was in the Curtiss AT-9. Shipped overseas July 1944 as a B-25 pilot flying co-pilot on combat missions with less than 5 hours in the airplane. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster and many more. Also was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and was assigned to Wright Patterson Air Base in Dayton, Ohio in the Air Technical Intelligence Center studying Soviet aircraft. Became Corporate Vice President, Central Regional Office for Northrop Aircraft in Dayton.

Louis Breckenridge Interview

 

Frank W. Buschmeier

B-17 waist gunner in the 350th Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. Based at Thorpe Abbots, England. 34 missions until he was taken prisoner by the Germans after getting hit and bailing out of the heavily damaged B-17G “Randi Lou”. Spent 9 months as a German POW, liberated in May 1945.

Leo L. Cavender

A B-25 pilot with the island-hopping 41st Bomb Group (M) of the 7th Air Force in the South Pacific. His missions took him through the Gilbert, Marshall and Marianas Islands. While on Okinawa he was among the first “land based” B-25’s to attack the Japanese mainland on Kyushu. He also witnessed the second atomic bomb over Nagasaki while returning from a bombing mission.

Stanley Cohen

Served in World War II with the 14th Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group, 75th Tactical Fighter Squadron in the China/Burma/India theater. He flew the P-40N. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

John B. Dennison

A B-25 pilot with the 7th Air Force, 41st Group, 48th Squadron.

Clifford H. ‘Cliff’ Dornette, Jr. 

B-25 Pilot

Walter D. Downs

Top turret gunner, 12th Bomb Group, 82nd Squadron. Stationed in India from November 1944 through September 1945. Flew 55 combat missions in a B-25 Bomber. Participated in the “fly-over” at the Victory Parade in Rangoon, Burma on June 15, 1945. Assigned to C-47 for “hump” flights in helping to move the 12th Bomb Group to China. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

Charles D. ‘Don’ Fairbanks

A tail gunner in a Consolidated B-24 Liberator with the 801st Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. All night missions dispatching supplies to the French and Belgium underground resistance, flew 30 missions. Author of the book Once Around the Patch (of Life). Don had over 33,000 flight hours in 335 makes and models of aircraft and operated a helicopter flight training business. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Donald Fairbanks Interview
Donald Fairbanks Veterans History Project Interview

 

Joseph M. ‘Joe’ Fitzwater

Joe Fitzwater was born June 11, 1924 in Terrace Park, Ohio. He entered military service March 1, 1943 into the world of photography at Lowry Field, Denver. Then went to Aerial Gunnery School in Brownsville, Texas training to become a top turret gunner on B-24s then advancing to Aerial Photo School at Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma. Joe was an aerial motion picture photographer with the 2nd Photo Recon Group in the Philippine Islands in 1945 then at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida 1947-1950. Joe flew in many types of aircraft including the B-29, helicopters and jets logging over 3,000 hours. He was discharged at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho on March 15, 1953.

Joseph Fitzwater Veterans History Project Interview

 

Daniel R. ‘Dan’ Fulton

WWII B-26 Martin Marauder medium bomber co-pilot with 23 missions over Germany. Served with the 375th Bomb Squadron, 391st Bomb Group. Entered service in 1943 and served until 1946.

Theodore ‘Ted’ Gardner

Enlisted as a gunnery officer then received a field commission becoming an Ensign on board ship in the Pacific Theater. Transferred to flight training. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Kenneth M. ‘Ken’ Glass

U.S. Navy pilot flying from the USS Hornet ship with Torpedo Squadron Two. After the war he remained in the Naval Reserve as a pilot until 1972, retiring with the rank of Captain. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Kenneth Glass Interview 
Kenneth Glass Veterans History Project Interview

Charles L. Gribi

Based in England as the bombardier on the B-24H “Briney Marlin”. 31 missions from April through October 1944. On his 4th mission on May 27, 1944 Charlie survived a mid-air collision with another B-24 in formation. The Briney Marlin had extensive damage to the right wing but was able to land at the home base while the other B-24 and crew was lost. Crew 71, 755th Squadron, 458th Bombardment Group, 2nd Air Division. October 1944 went to Midland, Texas as an instructor at Bombardier School until the WWII ended.

Charles Gribi Veterans History Project Interview
Charles Gribi Interview

Thomas C. ‘Tom’ Griffin

B-25 Navigator, one of the famous “Doolittle Raiders”, flew with Lt. Col Jimmy Doolittle in the first mission against Japan in April 1942. Flew with Gen. Doolittle in the 12th Air Force in Africa from November 1942 until shot down and captured by the Germans on July 4, 1943. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Clayton Kelly Gross

Born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1920, Clayton Kelly Gross joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. Assigned to the 354th Fighter Group, he flew 105 combat missions and shot down 6 aircraft, including one Me 262. His memoir, Live Bait, was published in 2006. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Clayton Kelly Gross Veteran History Project Interview

Alvin L. Hammond

Enlisting in the Army in April 1942 Al Hammond was assigned to the 439th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion. October 1942 he sailed from England to North Africa. He worked as a lineman setting up vital communications for the 64th Air Force Fighter Wing. He was involved in combat in North Africa, Sicily Italy, Corsica, Southern France and Germany. On V-E Day May 8, 1945 Al was in Stuttgart, Germany. He was a member of the 64th Fighter Wing Battalion Championship Softball Team. He returned to the US October 1945.

Ruth F. Hartman

Ruth F. Hartman was Born on Christmas Day, 1921 in Reading, Ohio. The oldest of five children, she was forced to drop out of high school to take care of her younger siblings when her mother died in early 1942. Partially out of a desire to set a good example, but mostly due to a sense of patriotic duty, she volunteered for military service in 1943 and the following year entered the Navy as part of the WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. Following training at Hunter College in New York City, she spent two years based at Norfolk inspecting returning naval aircraft and was discharged in January 1946. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Herbert M. Heilbrun

B-17 Bomber Pilot with many missions over enemy territory, served in Italy and on one occasion returned to base with a badly damaged aircraft with members of his crew killed. He credits the Tuskegee Airmen with saving his life. A recipient of the Harvard Foundation Award for his efforts to educate the public on his experiences in the war, his appreciation for the role the Tuskegee Airmen played in the war and the unfairness of racism. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Herbert Heilbrun Veterans History Project Interview

E. Bruce Heilman

E. Bruce Heilman was born in rural Kentucky to impoverished sharecroppers. Lacking an interest in school, he joined the Marine Corps and fought in the Pacific Theater. Inspired by his early life and military service, he used his G.I. Bill benefits to earn a PhD and pursue a career in higher education at the University of Richmond. His autobiography, An Interruption That Lasted a Lifetime, was released in 2008. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Robert D Hippert

A navigator with the 11th Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Group which became a squadron of the 341st Bomb Group serving in India and China. In July 1943 instructed with the Chinese-American Composite Wing at Malit, India.

Norbert F. Holtgrewe

Served in Japan with the Medical Detachment of the 4th Engineering Construction Group. Completed Surgical Technicians School in Denver, Colorado and Battle Creek, Michigan. Served as a Surgical Technician until September 1947.

Richard L. ‘Dick’ Hunt

Joined the Navy’s V-5 Program after leaving the U.S. Army Reserve at age 19. After two years of intensive flight training became a Naval Aviator designated as an F4U Fighter Bomber Pilot. His last training event was carrier qualification completed on August 12, 1945, three days before “V-J Day”. Dick has 158 hours in the Corsair.

 

Olaf Kahn, II

Major in the US Air Force, retired. Called for active duty for the Korean War in 1950 after serving in the West Virginia Air National Guard. Returning to active duty in 1962 for the Cuban missile crisis and continued active duty until retiring in 1979. Flown: C-123, C-130 (over 5,000 hours), PA-18, T-6, T-28, T-33, F-84, P-51, C-119. Flew in the US, Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, England, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and Africa.

Olaf Kahn, II Veterans History Project Interview

William J. ‘Bill’ Keating, Sr.

William J. ‘Bill’ Keating, Sr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1927. He attended St. Xavier High School, where he developed a lifelong involvement with swimming. After graduating in 1945, he joined the Naval Corps and later the Air Force Reserve as a Judge Advocate General. After the war he attended the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a law degree which he used to found the law firm Keating, Muething & Keating in 1954. He would later be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives before leaving politics to run the Cincinnati Enquirer. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

William K. ‘Bill’ Lahke

P-51 pilot with the 353rd Fighter Group.

 

John H. Leahr

P-51 pilot and member of the Tuskegee Airmen. John served in the European Theater and had over 100 missions. He escorted his second grade Cincinnati classmate Herb Heilbrun’s B-17 Bomber in combat. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient. 

John Learh Interview

Frank Lohr

Frank Lohr was a Sergeant in the US Army Air Corps. He was drafted in 1942 while a machinist with the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company (Milacron). A train ride from Batavia, Ohio to Ft Thomas, Kentucky began his military career, then Basic Training in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He attended the Academy of Aeronautics (now Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology) in New Jersey, then trained at LaGuardia Airport and Roosevelt Field. Moving to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio he was a crew chief on a B-25. “Every day on the B-25 was different”. Lohr tested the B-25 in preparation for the Doolittle Raid and was a Flight Engineer on one of the early B-29’s. He also flew on B-32’s and C-97’s and was involved in testing the gas consumption capacity of the B-29 between Guam and Japan. He received a Bronze Star for his involvement in the air offensive over Japan. Frank was discharged in 1945.   .

Robert Lorenz

Enlisted July 27, 1944 into the Navy. Basic training at Sampson, New York. Radio School at Bainbridge, Maryland then on to Newport, Rhode Island. Stationed on the USS Pocono (ACC-16), a command post communications flagship. Discharged out of the Navy June 14, 1946. Retired from the Cincinnati Fire Department after serving 28 years.

J. Arnold McCann

Personal body guard and chauffeur to General Stace in Guam, Served Army Air Corps 1943-1946, 25th Air Depot Group, 20th Air Force.

Milford Austin Merrill

U.S. Navy Commander Austin Merrill earned the Navy Cross flying the Douglas Dauntless SBD dive bomber in the Battle of Midway in June 1942 – (he was then Ensign Merrill). Merrill was involved in 9 naval battles including Wake Island and Marcus Island. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. He also landed on the USS Hornet immediately after Jimmy Doolittle took off from the flight deck. 

Edward W. Mohr

Coxswain 3rd class served on the USS Myrmidon ( ARL-16) in the Pacific Theatre from 1944-1946.

Fred H. Naeve

P-51 pilot flying with the 363rd Group in the European Theater.

 

Charles A. ‘Charlie’ Nau

Flight Officer Army Air Corps November 1942 – December 1945. Radar Observer B-29. 485th Replacement Bomb Group, Smokey Hill Air Force Base, Celina, Kansas. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Charles Nau Interview 
Charles Nau Veterans History Project Interview

Richard Nichols

C-47 pilot until 1945 flying evacuation routes ferrying wounded out of Europe to Rome, Georgia, Denver, Colorado and Buffalo, New York. Was part of the 8th and 5th Air Force. In 1942 resigned a Field Artillery Commission while a Dentistry student at Ohio State University in order to join the Army Air Force. Flight training was at the new (then) Kearns Army Air Base, Salt Lake City. 

Lincoln W. Pavey

Sergeant in the US Army 1944-1946. 104th AAA (AW) Battalion in the Asia-Pacific Theater as Master-Gunner. Positioned 16 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns guarding around airbases, etc. Fought in New Guinea, helped Douglas MacArthur return to the Philippines and liberate Manilla, and was stationed in occupied Japan following WWII.

Otto C. Pobanz

Naval Aviator 1942 – 1946 with the Naval Aviation Navigation Squadron. Primary mission was pilot training – transitioned new pilots to multi-engine and transport category aircraft and advanced instrument flying. Stationed in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. LCDR US Naval Reserves.

Richard A. ‘Dick’ Pandorf

Photo-Gunner on B-25’s flying with the 341st Bomb Group out of India and later out of China. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Walter Paranuk

Served in the submarine service on the USS Razorback (SS-394)  from 1943 – 1946 in the South Pacific.

Bruce A. Richardson

B-17G tail gunner on the “Reluctant Dragon” with the 100th Bomb Group in the European Theater, 33 missions. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Howard Ricke

Howard Ricke (pronounced “ricky”) was the wartime pilot of the Museum’s TBM Avenger BuNo 53420, as a member of VT-36. He flew the Avenger on anti-submarine patrol as he and his squadron traveled to the Pacific Theater aboard the USS Siboney (CVE-112) – before their arrival the Japanese had surrendered. In the immediate aftermath of the war he participated in the search for Rear Admiral Sample, commander of the USS Hornet who was lost after his reconnaissance plane went down. After the war Howard spent the rest of his life raising his family in Batesville, Indiana. His family discovered the wonderful Avenger connection to the Tri-State Warbird Museum while researching his history in late 2013. Howard passed away in 1973.

James Burt Rishel

After attending the University of Nebraska and becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Army Field Artillery, Burt transferred to the Army Air Corps to become an engineer working in the Glider Branch of Aircraft Laboratory at Wright Field, Ohio in June 1942. He worked for Lew Stowe, the civilian chief of the branch and the principal designer for the CG-10A glider. The design of this glider eventually developed into the first Assault Cargo aircraft. In 1945 Burt was given the temporary rank of Captain and in 1946 he left the Air Corps and returned to Lincoln, Nebraska to finish his education becoming a Professional Engineer.

D. James Robinson

Originally from Amelia, Ohio, was a student at Ohio State when enlisted into the Army becoming a member of the 3rd Platoon, A Company. Late 1944 moving from France into Belgium Jim’s platoon was overrun by the Germans and was lucky to escape. Saw fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, transitioned to the M18 tank destroyer as a gunner. As a part of the 83rd Infantry division he fought his way across Germany to cross the Elbe River. Also served 4 years in the Reserves during the Korean War.

Lawrence Rogers

Served as an armored artillery officer in Europe in support of General Patton’s push to Germany.

Harry O. Rohde

B-24 pilot with the 15th Air Force – 451st Bomb Group.

John A. Ruthven

Drafted into the US Navy at age 18 in 1942. Anti-sub missions for 2 years aboard the Destroyer Escort USS J.R.Y. Blakely (DE-140) in the North Atlantic theater. On the way to the Pacific to prepare for an invasion of Japan the atomic bomb was dropped and they spent V-J Day in Honolulu. After the war ended an additional year was spent removing Japanese troops from bypassed islands. Picture is of John – top left- and mates sitting on a wrecked Japanese Zero.

John Sawyer

B-17 pilot with the 548th Squadron, 385th Bomb Group based in Great Ashfield, England flying the European Theater. Training included primary in Hobbs, New Mexico and advanced training in Douglas, Arizona and then B-17 transition training at McGill Field, Tampa Florida. Headed to England aboard the ship, QEII, John flew one mission in England before the war ended. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

George E. Schultz

Infantry Rifleman, U.S. Army in the Italian Theater 1945 – 1946. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Gerald Siddall

Served in the Atlantic and the Caribbean as the Senior Fire Control assigned to the destroyer USS Diachenko (APD-123). Following the war years became an engineer with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

Earl J. Slanker

Flew the Martin B-26 Marauder for 63 missions in the Army Air Corps.

Earl Slanker Veterans History Project Interview

S. Arthur Spiegel

Marine Corps Officer, served as a Forward Observer for numerous island assaults in the Pacific. Later served as an airborne observer in Stinson L-5 and TBM Avenger. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

S. Arthur Spiegel Veterans History Project Interview

Jean M. Springer

Ferry pilot in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) flying PT-19, AT-6, DC-3/C-47, B-24, B-25, B-17. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

John F. Steele, Sr. 

Naval Aviator serving in the Pacific. Pilot of the torpedo bomber TBM-3 Avenger. John had 270 carrier landings including 40 at night, and flew in 25 combat missions. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

John Steele, Sr Veterans History Project Interview 

Charles N. Stix

At age 17 enlisted in the Marine Corps, served with the First Marine Division, 3rd Armored Amphibian Tank Battalion, in the landings on Peleliu and Okinawa.  Charles also took part in the occupation of Japan and was discharged at Great Lakes in 1946 as a corporal. Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Charles Stix Veterans History Project Interview

Daniel L. Wiot

Army Air Corps 1943-1945. From Mt. Lookout, Cincinnati, Ohio. Flew 49 missions as an engineer gunner/bomber on a B-26. Earned the Distinguished Flying Cross when he risked his life to get the stuck bomb bay doors to fully open before the bombs detonated still in the airplane. In the theaters: European, African, Middle Eastern. Was in the Battles: Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe, battle of the Bulge. Also earned the Air Medal with 8 bronze stars.

Russell B. Witte, Jr.

B-25 Mitchell Bomber pilot with over 50 missions flying from North Africa over Sicily and Italy. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 9 Air Medals. Later served as a test pilot at Eglin Field in Florida where he flew the camera planes during the filming of “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.” Tri-State Warbird Museum Contribution to Freedom Award recipient.

Russell B Witte, Jr. Veterans History Project Interview

Chris A. Wunnenberg, Jr.

B-17 Bomber pilot assigned to the 339th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomber Group flying from Snetterton Heath, England. The Wunnenberg crew completed 25 missions in 93 days on April 1, 1944, then an unofficial 8th Air Force record. That was also the day that the tour completion number was revised to 30 missions. The crew negotiated to fly 2 more. After 27 missions, Major Wunnenberg returned to the U.S. for B-17 instructor duties and later instructed in the B-29. He was ultimately transferred to a B-29 squadron which was alerted for duty in the Far East, but the war ended shortly before they were to deploy. Chris earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and multiple Air Medals.

Gordon W. Yuellig

B-25 student officer instructor pilot at Enid Army Air Field until October 1945.