HomeNewsArticle Display

WWII pilot reunited with P-47

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel, a 92-year-old World War II veteran, was given the opportunity to visit the aircraft he used to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while under the wing of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel, a 92-year-old World War II veteran, was given the opportunity to visit the aircraft he used to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel touches a P-47 Thunderbolt, for the first time since the 1960's, during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel was given the opportunity to visit the aircraft as well as received praise from Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Commander of Air Combat Command, for his contributions to America. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel touches a P-47 Thunderbolt, for the first time since the 1960's, during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel was given the opportunity to visit the aircraft as well as received praise from Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Commander of Air Combat Command, for his contributions to America. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

The log book of retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel is looked at during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. The book showed the 92-year-old veteran's, flights over Iwo Jima, Japan during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

The log book of retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel is looked at during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. The book showed the 92-year-old veteran's, flights over Iwo Jima, Japan during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while sitting in front of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel, a 92-year-old World War II veteran, flew the aircraft while stationed in Iwo Jima, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, laughs while sitting in front of a P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel, a 92-year-old World War II veteran, flew the aircraft while stationed in Iwo Jima, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, receives a Heritage Flight patch from Tom Gregory, P-47 Thunderbolt HF pilot during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel, a 92-year-old veteran, flew the Thunderbolt during World War II and had not seen one since his retirement in the 1960's. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

Retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel, receives a Heritage Flight patch from Tom Gregory, P-47 Thunderbolt HF pilot during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course Feb. 28, 2015, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Hertel, a 92-year-old veteran, flew the Thunderbolt during World War II and had not seen one since his retirement in the 1960's. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jensen Stidham)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- Sitting in a wheelchair with images of airplanes on his shirt and a U.S. Army Air Corps hat on his head, 92-year-old retired Air National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Hertel was reunited with the P-47 Thunderbolt during the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course here Feb. 28.

After being wheeled out to the flightline, Hertel was greeted by Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the commander of Air Combat Command, Charles Hainline and Tom Gregory, both P-47 Thunderbolt Heritage Flight pilots.

Hertel flew the legendary Thunderbolt while stationed on Iwo Jima, Japan, during World War II and had not seen the aircraft since retiring from the military in the 1960's.

"When I found out it was going to be here I just had to bring him," said Hertel's daughter Peggy Hertel. "It's been his dream for so long to see one again."

Although he does not remember a lot of his past, there is one thing that has stayed clear in his memory.

"He has always remembered his airplanes," Peggy said. "I think he was thinking he was going to get in and fly it."

Hertel smiled and laughed as he was wheeled around the aircraft, stopping to reach out with his war-fought hands to touch his old friend.

Just as seeing the aircraft was exciting for the veteran, Carlisle and the P-47 pilots were in for a treat as well.

"I brought some of his pictures and log book, everybody wants to see the log book," Peggy said. "It shows some of the bombing flights that he went on and firefights and even has a couple of tourist tours that he flew. It's quite a bit of history to see."

The P-47 pilots ended WWII with 3,752 air-to-air kills while flying more than 423,000 sorties.

"Thanks for making us the greatest Air Force in the world," Carlisle told Hertel. "You are a part of our heritage. We wouldn't be where we are at if it wasn't for people like you that set us up for success."

Hertel left the aircraft with an ACC commander's coin, P-47 patch, and Heritage Flight memorabilia to remember the day he was finally reunited with his old pal.

"I am just really glad that I was able to bring him here and that everybody has been so kind with showing the plane and talking to him," Peggy said.

Engage

Twitter
#ICYMI, DAF senior leaders and their spouses participated in a Leadership & the Family panel during #ASC21 held at… https://t.co/FZOnzruyw4
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: U.S. #Airmen from various organizations within USAFE-AFAFRICA participated in Falcon Leap 21, a multinational parachute tr…
Twitter
Hear why this #Airman chose to get vaccinated. @SecAFOfficial directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guideli… https://t.co/154QECoeXk
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Doing frequent mental health check-ins could make a big difference in building resiliency. Promote wellness within yourself…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Every time I look at "Wings Through Time” by Robert Emerson Bell it’s a constant reminder that the ability to accelerate…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: If you need help or know someone who needs help - text 838255 or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Military Crisis Line. Let…
Twitter
RT @US_TRANSCOM: A @usairforce KC-135 refuels a B-2 Spirit in @US_EUCOM during a bomber task force mission.Tankers fuel the required reach…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A senior leader message during #SuicidePreventionMonth: "You are our greatest strength and the beating heart of our Air…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations to the @USAirForce’s 12 Outstanding #Airmen of the Year on earning recognition as exemplary performers i…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: 1/ #DidYouKnow Sept. is Insider Threat Awareness Month? No environment is immune from the threat posed by trusted insiders.…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Sharene and I take the caring and well-being of our Airmen and their families very seriously. Thank you @AirForceAssoc fo…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Everyone wants to make their mark on the world. But why make just one? https://t.co/g1iX4pzU9b
Twitter
10 years have passed since #DontAskDontTell was repealed. @UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones celebrated the milestone by… https://t.co/i1kTNvykzM
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: It’s going to take all of our Airmen, Active-duty, Reserve and Guard to secure this nation’s future. https://t.co/4P3CUiQ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: A few years ago, only two small businesses joined us at AFA--this year we have 40+. @AFWERX works with these companies ever…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF is meeting with defense industry leaders today during the @AirForceAssoc’s #ASC21 events. In his #OneTeamOneFigh
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our rate of change needs to increase. We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of to…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,377,765
Follow Us