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WWII-Era Planes Bring Rush Of Memories For Veterans Who Once Flew Them
The restored planes parked at Millville Municipal Airport on Thursday brought a rush of memories for the World War II-era veterans who gazed at them.
"Witchcraft," a B-24J Liberator bomber; "Nine O Nine," a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber; "Tondelayo," a B-25 Mitchell bomber; and the P-51 Mustang fighter "Toulouse Nuts" were flying war machines that Albert Teplitsky and the others once knew well from the inside.
"It took me back a long ways, and it taught me I can't get around the B-24s like I used to," said Teplitsky, 91.
Teplitsky, who grew up in West Philadelphia, was drafted in 1943 right out of high school, and served as an aerial engineer and a top-turret gunner.
He now lives at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home in Northeast Philadelphia, and went to Millville on Thursday. He and other veterans were drawn by the old warplanes, flown in as part of the Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom tour.
The Millville leg of the tour coincides with the 75th anniversary of the former Millville Army Air Field's designation as "America's First Defense Airport," whose mission was to help protect the East Coast. As part of the event, the Millville Army Air Field Museum recognized more than a dozen local veterans at a brunch reception.
Some recollections were somber.
Louis Gerlack was last in a B-17 — his specialty — five years ago, when his daughters and grandchildren arranged a flight for him in Reading. It was the first time he had flown in one since 1946.
"If there's one thing I'm thankful for, I was pulled [to be] an instructor," said Gerlack, 94, of Aura, Gloucester County.
But "all my friends were killed," he said. "They were losing 100 B-17s a day, and I don't know anyone that got back."
Charles Osbourne of Laurel Springs trained at the former Army airfield. "I knew that I would have a chance of maybe getting stationed here, and lo and behold, I did," said Osbourne, 92, who has a life membership to the air field museum and volunteers there as often as he can. Flying a P-47 fighter, he said, he saw active duty in the North Atlantic in 1944.
When Roland J. "Rocky" Gannon decided to become a pilot, he was still in high school in Ocean City.
Since the Army had eased requirements for pilot training, Gannon — whose nickname comes from James Cagney's character in Angels With Dirty Faces — took a written test in Philadelphia and was one of 36 out of 155 candidates to pass. After training in Miami Beach, he was assigned to a B-17 and was officially a pilot at age 19. He went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam.
At the time, "I had never driven a car in my entire life," said Gannon, 91, who splits his time between his hometown and South Carolina, where his wife of 65 years is from.
Volunteers with the Collings Foundation such as retired airline pilot Paul Reidy transport the planes between cities.
"My father was in the Army during [World War II]," said Reidy, 67, of Cleveland, a self-described WWII history buff. "He was in the Pacific ... It's just part of who I am."
Earlier in the week, the planes visited Northeast Philadelphia Airport. At 1 p.m. Friday, Wings of Freedom will fly south to Cape May.
Lisa Jester, director of the airfield museum, has met numerous World War II veterans and said, "It's amazing getting to hear their stories."
The planes at Millville will be open for walk-through tours ($12 adults, $6 children 12 and under) between 9 a.m. and noon Friday. The tour is free for World War II veterans. Proceeds benefit the Collings Foundation, which seeks to preserve American aviation and automobile history.
© 2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.
The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.
Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.
The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.