Governor Bruce Sundlun (1920-2011) led a long and successful life in business, politics, and the practice of law. Back in 1941, he was a senior at Williams College when the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor. He and most of his classmates volunteered for the service, and since Bruce already had a private pilot’s license he went into the Air Corps. He trained on multi-engine aircraft and eventually became a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. His plane, Damn Yankee, was shot down December 1, 1943 over Belgium returning from their 13th mission. He evaded capture for more than six months, working with the French Resistance until he escaped to Switzerland in late May, 1944. He stayed in the Reserves after the war, commanding a Troop Carrier Squadron, then a Wing before his retirement as a Colonel.
One aspect of his civilian life of which many of you may be unaware is that he served as President of Executive Jet Aviation for six years.
Unpaid while on the run, Sundlun received back pay amounting to about $8,000. He bought French francs at what he later learned was a remarkably favorable rate. When he later exchanged them for Army script, he wound up with $25,000. Sundlun used the money to buy stock in Boeing, the aircraft company that made Damn Yankee.
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