Stan Essex, Jr.

Over the past 22 years, long-time Warwick resident and Navy Korean War veteran Stanley R. Essex, Jr., has virtually single-handedly restored two wrecked warbirds to magnificent display condition: a WWII-era Navy Hellcat fighter for the Quonset Air Museum, and the F9F Panther jet known as the “Ted Williams Airplane” for the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame/USS John F. Kennedy project. Along the way, he has worked on a number of other aircraft restoration projects, and was instrumental in the construction of an award-winning 30-foot-long model of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. He was born in Amesbury, MA on March 26, 1931. His father was a single dad and a career sailor, so young Stan lived with his grandmother while his dad was at sea. When his grandmother died in 1940, he moved to Warwick to live with his father’s brother’s family. Stan always loved planes, so just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War, he enlisted in the Navy under its High School Airman Recruit Program, with a guarantee of aviation training and an aviation billet. He soon found himself deployed in combat aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard, where he became a plane captain for an F-9 Panther. After Korea he finished his service with Carrier Air Wing 7 at Quonset. Using the GI Bill, he learned electronics and avionics, and eventually operated his own television servicing and repair business. In 1989 Stan became one of the first members of the Quonset Air Museum, and was heavily involved in the recovery and retrieval of a crashed Hellcat off the coast of Block Island.

Read the Cranston Herald‘s article on Stan Essex >

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