Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on May 2, 1993 · Page 13
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 13

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 2, 1993
Page 13
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I ML urx.AM DAILY JOURNAL To report lo^ul nows telephone Maureen Connor-Rice, 468-3526 Valley Living B-1 SUNDAY, MAY 2, 1993 WWII aces at air show By MAUREEN CONNOR-RICE Valley living editor F our World War n flying aces and an author/historian of books about many battles and campaigns will be special guests at the Lions Air Show in Ukiah scheduled June 19 and 20. Bruce Portor, Hub Zemke, Alex Vraciu, Bob Goebel and Eric Hammel will sell and autograph copies of their books or pictures. Their latest publications include Porter's "Ace" and "Marine Night-Fighter Pilot;" Zemke's "Zemke's Wolfpack" and "Mustang Ace" by Geobel. "Guadalcanal" by Hammel is just one of the author's numerous books and articles about battles from World War n, Korea, Vietnam, Israel's Six-Day War and others. Alex Vraciu, now living in Danville, was born in East Chicago, Ind. While in college, he sensed a war looming, so took private pilot lessons. In 1941, he entered naval flight training just prior to Pearl Harbor and earned his wings in August 1942. He qualified for carrier duty by flying his F4F Wildcat onto the USS Wolverine, a converted excursion ship, on Lake Michigan. His first combat assignment was to fly F6F Grumman Hellcats as the wingman of Lt. Comrn. Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare, a Medal of Honor winner and commanding officer of Fighting Squadron 3. He shot down his first Japanese Zero fighter at Wake Island in October 1943 and qualified as an ace by the end of January. Vraciu continued his missions; continued to notch up Japanese Zeros and Betty bomber- reconnaissance planes, even was responsible for sinking a Japanese merchant ship. During what has become known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot, he bagged six Judy dive-bombers in eight minutes. On Dec. 14,1944, his luck ran out - - he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire while strafing near Clark Field in the Philippines. He parachuted to safety and spent the next several weeks with guerrillas. Vraciu had survived service on six carriers, including the Lexington, as well as two ditchings and two parachute jumps. He was shipped home and the war was over for him. He was the fourth-ranking Naval Ace, shooting down 19 enemy aircraft and destroying 21 more on the ground. After the war, he was given his own squadron, Fighter Squadron Fifty-One where he won the High Individual Air-to-Air competition at El Centre in 1957, outshooting all Naval and Marine pilots to be "top gun." Robert J. Goebel was born in Racine, Wise., the youngest of seven children. In 1942, when he was 19, he entered the service as an aviation cadet, beginning his career at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center. He began his flight career in the Fairchild PT-19. After his graduation from flight schools in May 1943, his first assignment was to Panama, defending the canal. He was next shipped to North Africa, where he flew the Spitfire with the 31st Fighter Group operating in the Mediterranean area. Finally he went to Italy where he flew Mustangs. He flew a total of 61 long-range missions from San Severo, Italy, supporting the bomber offensive of Southern Europe, and 16 trips to the Rumanian oil fields. In the course of these flights, he destroyed 11 enemy fighters in the air. In spite of leading his squadron into combat seven times and leading the entire group twice, he was still only 21 years old when he completed his tour and returned to the States. His decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with 17 oak leaf clusters and the Presidential Unit Citation with one oak leaf cluster. He left the service in 1946, received a bachelor of science degree in physics, then returned to active duty in 1950. After various assignments in Atomic Eneigy and Space programs, he retired from the Air Force in 1966. He has been married to June for 50 years, has nine children and 22 grandchildren. They live in Torrance. Hub Zemke was born in March 1914 and raised in Missoula, Mont. Forestry was his major at the University of Montana. His 30 years of military service began in 1936 when he was a flying cadet with the US Army Air Corps. While in the military, he commanded six different fighter groups and flew various aircraft from the P-6E Curtiss "Pea Shooter" bi-plane to the Flying aces shown with their planes are, from top, Hubert Zemke, Bruce Porter and Alex Vraciu. Ace Robert Goebel has amassed plenty of medals. Lockheed F-104 Shooting Star. He feels his best successes were as the commander of the 56th and 479th Fighter Groups in the European Theater during World War n. That's when he flew the leading fighters at the time — P-38 Lightening, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang. Zemke's personal record is \TA air victories, 8/1 ground by straffing as well as numerous locomotives, cars, oil tank cars, trucks, staff cars, bridges, canal barges and the like. He spent the last 5'/a months of the war in a German prison camp. Since he retired from the military more than 20 years ago, he has spent his time on an almond ranch in Oroville or working in his wood hobby shop. He also has done some writing. Ret. Col R. Bruce Porter was one of World War H's top night-fighter aces in the Marine Corps. He is one of a select group of Navy and Marine Corps pilots who flew the F4F Wildcat, F4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat in combat. He is also one of the few pilots who flew them during both the daytime and at night. Porter is probably the only Marine pilot to gain two or more kills in both the Corsair and Hellcat, and is the fifth of six Marine night-fighter pilots to score a double or triple kill in one mission. In 1943, he flew interception missions from Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands, and escort mission in the Slot. He downed four Zeros. He also flew strafing attacks on Kahili in Bouganville, where Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was shot down. After 19 months in the Pacific, he returned to the States to become a fighter instructor in El Toro, then was reassigned to form a night-fighter group in Cherry Point, N.C. Another reassignment brought him to the West Coast as executive officer aboard the escort carrier Block Island. Porter flew off the flattop until he was assigned to the Marshall Gilbert Islands. There he helped lead the squadron on what was then the longest flight over water in the war for a single-engine aircraft. The mission extended from Engebi to Saipan-Iwo Jima. The colonel now lives in Fresno. Historian, author Eric Hammel was bom in Salem, Mass., in 1946 and raised in Philadelphia where he received a degree from Temple University. Though he began writing when he was 15, he has been writing books and articles full time only since 1984. Among those with whom he has collaborated or co-authored books is war ace Porter. They wrote "Ace!: A Marine Night-Fighter Pilot in World War H." A bevy of performers are lined up for this annual event, sponsored by the Redwood Empire Lions and Ukiah Host Lions. Flyers and performers will do plenty of stunts and aerobatics in their airplanes. John Piggot will bring his Sukhoi, the Russian Su-29 which seats two, for his airborn stunts. The Chutin' Stars will free-fall in the skies above the airport. These five women parachutists perform free falling, choreographed jumping, canopy maneuvers and precision landings. These "cloud dancers" have performed all over the world. The five consist of original member Debbie Willett; Kathleen Orlando, another original member; Dawn Menard; Janine Marcacci and Janet Hood. Joann Osterud will fly her Ultimate 10-300S stunt plane in the show. A pilot for more than 20 years, and stunt pilot for 19, she has broken two world's records — both women's and men's — with her flying. Amelia Reid of Reid Hillview Airport in San Jose has been flying in airshows since 1966. She gets the crowd's attention with a butterfly sequence which is a series of swooping, diving and climbing turns with 40 degrees of flaps performed at low levels near the runway. The Silver Wings Flight Team will be on hand with their antique aircraft entertaining with smoke systems in all the planes. There will be air rides both days, fly ins, flybys and aerobatics and refreshments. Admission is $6. A hangar dance with the Country Notes and barbecue are planned on Saturday night with a pancake breakfast on Sunday. A Father's Day gift: Mount his name for all to see Dear old Dad, or some grandfather before him, proudly served in the U.S. Navy, and just for serving, a national monument has been built for him in Washington, including a place to record his name for generations of Americans to see. The U.S. Navy Memorial honors all who have served in the Navy, and there are more than 200,000 records in its high-tech, interactive video Navy Memorial Log of active, retired and former bluejackets and officers, living or dead. Putting Pop in the Log is a great gift for Father's Day, according to Master Chief Petty Officer Dave Michael, coordinator of the log. "You never get the wrong size and it's a gift that lasts forever," said the master chief. "A large percentage of our enrollments are gifts — for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and Father's Day." Displayed in user-friendly video consoles in the Log Room of the Navy Memorial's Visitors Center, each log record includes the name, date and place of birth, period of naval service and highest rate or rank held. The $25 tax deductible contribution requested for .enrollment helps defray the cost of building and operating the Memorial and Visitors Center. For Father's Day gifts, the Memorial will acknowledge enrollments with a special greeting card and Log registration forms for presentation to the father being honored. Navy vets or their kin desiring to enroll them in the Log should send in the sailor's name and address (plus name and address of donor if different), date and place of birth and, if known, Dad's highest rank or rate and dates of naval service. Enrollment, including check, should be sent to: U.S. Navy Memorial Log, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Dept. M, Washington, D.C. 20004-2608. in uniform Henry Johnson Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Henry F. Johnson, son of Henry A. and Barbara A. Johnson of Fort Bragg, is currently deployed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star. The Polar Star is homeported in Seattle, Wash., and is midway through a six-month deployment to the Antarctic. During the deployment, the icebreaker's primary mission is to break a channel through the ice of the Ross Sea into McMurdo Sound. Once the channel is completed, the Polar Star will escort the tanker Paul Buck and the cargo ship Green Wave to resupply McMurdo Station, a major U.S. research station. Polar Star also places scientists on ice floes to gather samples and to observe the penetration of ultraviolet radiation through the ice. Additionally, the ship deployed its two JJ-65A Dolphin helicopters to service remote automatic weather stations which provide data year- round via satellite. The Polar Star and its sistership, Polar Sea, make up the United States' Polar Icebreaker Fleet and are the world's most powerful conventionally powered icebreakers. The 1977 graduate of Fort Bragg High School joined the Coast Guard in February 1978. Philip Crabb Airman Philip K. Crabb has graduated from Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The son of Robert E. and Pamela C. Crabb of Ukiah, he graduated from Ukiah High School in 1991. During the six weeks of training, the airman studied the Air Force mission, organization and customs and received special training in human relations. In addition, airmen who complete basic training earn credits toward an associate degree through the Community College of the Air Force. m**j to* BUSINESS F idayin

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