Harry A. Smith (1923-2012), nose gunner on a 14th Air Force B24 Liberator bomber, was a member of a crew that bailed out of a lost aircraft over China and trekked some 800 miles to safety over a several week period in 1944. Born in Cranston in March 1923, he attended Central High School in […]
VADM James B. Stockdale, USN (1923-2005) A graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 1947, he is best remembered for his extraordinary leadership as the senior naval officer held in captivity during the Vietnam War, and his 1992 stint as running mate to independent presidential candidate Ross Perot. Admiral Stockdale was one of the most […]
George Sullivan was born in 1934, raised in Newport and graduated from Rogers High School in 1952. In 1954 he was drafted and assigned to the Army’s rotary aircraft maintenance school at Fort Rucker, AL. His ensuing duty tour took him to Korea where he serviced the Sikorsky H-19 and the Bell H-13 “Sioux.” He […]
Major Elliot Summer, US Army Air Corps, a Providence native and WWII ace with ten kills to his credit, flew P-38s in the Pacific with the 432nd Fighter Squadron – which he ended up commanding by the end of the war. His many awards included the Silver Star, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 9 Air […]
So far we can document 15 Tuskegee Airmen from this state, three of whom died during their service: 2/LT William E. Hill of Narragansett Flight Officer William P. Armstrong of Providence 2/LT Walter S. Gladding of Providence The first black pilot from Rhode Island to graduate from the Tuskegee program was 2/LT William E. Hill […]
Military aviation has been a major part of Rhode Island’s history, starting with James and Ezra Allen, who flew observation balloons for the Union Army during the Civil War. Fixed wing involvement started when Gerald Hanley joined the Rhode Island National Guard in 1915. As a lieutenant in Battery A of the Coast Artillery, he […]
Chester Wachowicz (1923-2014) was born in Central Falls, RI. He left Cumberland High School in his junior year to help support his family. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, and when the war started he wanted to volunteer. After getting his father’s permission, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and graduated from Aircraft Electrical […]
The Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame honored the four Rhode Island women who flew as WASP during World War II. These women are Phyllis Marsden Johnson Paradis, Bea St. Claire Smith Thurston, Ann Kenyon Morse, and Eunice Oates. The WASP program grew out of efforts led by noted aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran to integrate women […]
Charlestown resident Lawrence Webster is an award-winning mechanical engineer known in aviation history circles as the “aluminum undertaker” because of his extensive work excavating air crash sites.
In September 1943, Jean Teresino Yarnall (1923-2013) was living in Hartford, CT and working for an insurance company. She decided to join the new Navy unit called “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”, or WAVES.
Robert (Bob) J. Yarnall Sr., USN, Ret. (1924-2015) graduated from boot camp at Norfolk Naval Station in 1941 and was an aerial gunner in WWII and an aviation machinist at Quonset.