Born in Providence, Perkins attended Mt. St. Charles Academy, played hockey and was the All-State football quarterback his senior year. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps three months before Pearl Harbor, earned his wings and shipped over to Italy. He flew B-17 bombers with the 353rd Bomb Squadron (Heavy), 301st Bomb Group. On January 30, 1944, on his 43rd mission, Perkins’ plane was mortally damaged. His family was notified of the loss of the aircraft and the presumed deaths of the entire crew. Perkins bailed out, however, and with the help of General Tito’s partisans, the injured and ill flier reached friendly forces after 63 days behind enemy lines. After his discharge he went to work as a pilot for Eastern Airlines, eventually flying as Captain and check pilot until his mandatory retirement. For his wartime service he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with several clusters and a Purple Heart.
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