In 2011 I wrote what I thought was a good Memorial day blog—I was just going to recycle that one today until Nat agreed to come for lunch. I asked him to bring his World War II medals which he did along with this great photograph:
Looking at the photograph, Nat is third from the left in the row standing. He was 22 and one of the oldest in the group—these are the guys he trained with and flew 5 missions over Japan with. These 12 men all survived the war and three are still surviving including Nat. After five missions, the copilot left this crew after being given his own plane—Nat said this shook up the crew he flew with, when you are getting shot at every day, planes are being ditched in the ocean—you become superstitious, you want the same people around you who have worked together and managed to stay alive in those circumstances. Nat flew 31 missions over Japan and Korea.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal and other medals pictured below:
When the war in the Pacific began the US did not control Iwo Jima making the distance from Japan to the base on Tinian greater than the fuel capacity of the planes at times—many men lost their lives when forced to land their planes in the ocean. Once the US gained control of Iwo Jima, there was a refueling stop and a place to land in case of emergency. Nat said his crew landed on Iwo Jima five times, three of those landings under emergency conditions.
Nat said his best and last mission was when the war was over but treaty had not been signed. The location of the Japanese POW camps had been discovered. Nat’s crew loaded their bomb bays with tons of food, flew in low over these camps and dropped the food to the prisoners.
This is our granddaughter Laci serving in Italy in the USAF with Nat—those two have a very special bond.