| Col. Dean Caswell
Caswell was born in 1921 in Benning, California, and raised in Texas. After graduating from flight school at Pensacola, Florida in 1943, he was assigned to VMF-221 as a Marine Corps Pilot flying the F4U Corsair.
In December 1944, Caswell went to sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill for battle against the Japanese in the Pacific. VMF-221 claimed the aerial destruction of 185 enemy aircraft, the second highest-scoring Marine Squadron. On May 11, 1945, the Bunker Hill was seriously damaged by two kamikazes and had to return to the United States for repairs. After the war, Dean Caswell remained in the Marine Corps and continued flying from carriers until 1951.
After a short stint with the Blue Angels, he was called for duty in the Korean Conflict and served two tours, flying the F4U-5 Corsair, F7F-2 Tigercat and the F3D Skynight. In Vietnam he Commanded an Air Group flying the F4 Phantom and retired as a Colonel in 1967. He now resides in Austin, Texas.
For his service he was awarded the Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 7 Air Medals and 14 other citations and is only one of two surviving Marine Aces alive today.
Col. C.E. "Bud" Anderson
In January 1942, Bud Anderson enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet and received his wings in September 1942.
Anderson flew two combat tours against the Luftwaffe in Europe while assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group, and was the group's third-leading ace, with 16¼ aerial victories. His P-51 Mustang, nicknamed ‘Old Crow’, carried him safely through 116 missions without being hit by enemy fire and without Anderson ever having to turn back for any reason.
He returned to the United States in February 1945 as a Captain, and assumed duties as a test pilot at Wright Field and later at Edwards Air Force Base. He served two tours at the Pentagon. He commanded the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, an F-105 Thunderchief unit, during the final months of service in the Vietnam War, and retired from the Air Force in March 1972.
He was decorated twenty-five times for his service to the United States. After his retirement from active duty, he became the manager of McDonnell Aircraft Company's Flight Test facility at Edwards AFB, serving there until 1984. With over thirty years of military service, he flew in excess of 100 types of aircraft and logged over 7,000 hours as a pilot.
On July 19, 2008, he was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1990, Anderson co-authored the book To Fly & Fight—Memoirs of a Triple Ace and will be offering autographed copies of that book for sale at the autograph tent during the airshow.
Col. Joe McPhail
McPhail started flight school on 4 December 1941 at the naval air station in Dallas and earned his wings on Oct. 1,1942. He left for the Pacific on 16 January 1943 and joined VMF-441 on Samoa flying F4F Grumman Wildcats, and returned to the U.S. in February, 1944. He went back overseas in January of 1945 and joined VMF-323 "Death Rattlers" flying the F-4U Corsair on Okinawa. McPhail flew 140 Combat Missions in WWII, and is credited for shooting down a Zero and a Nate.
He was called back for duty during the Korean Conflict flying the Corsair with the famed VMF-214 "Black Sheep" Squadron, completing 102 missions and earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal.
Lt. Col. Jap Lott
Lt. Col. Lott was in the 82nd Squadron of the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group during WWII. He flew 75 missions in the P-40 and 76 missions in the P-51 Mustang in the Pacific.
Capt. Pete Mullinax
Mullinax was a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress Pilot with the 8th Air Force, 94th Bomb Group. His 9th mission was to attack the heavily defended ball bearing plants at Schienfurt, Germany, on 14 October 1943. After releasing his bombs on target, his B-17 was attacked by German fighter aircraft forcing Mullinax and his crew to bail out over enemy territory. He was captured, and after recovering from his wounds, spent the remainder of the war as a POW.
Lt. Col. Rodney Nevitt
H. Rodney Nevitt was born on Aug. 31, 1920 in Shreveport, La., and moved as a young child to Houston with his parents and older brother William (Bill). He attended V.M.I. until being accepted into flight school, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in April 1942. After twin-engine transition training in B-18s, Nevitt joined the 73rd Bomb Squadron (M) of the 28th Composite Group, 11th Air Force, in Anchorage, Alaska. His first combat flights were searches for the Japanese carrier force associated with the Battle of Dutch Harbor (June 3-4, 1943). From June 1942 to May 1943, Nevitt flew 33 combat missions (as pilot or co-pilot) in the Aleutian Islands—flying from such bases as Cold Bay, Umnak, Kodiak, and Adak—initially in B-26 Marauders and, from January 1943, in Mitchell B-25s.
After rotating back to the states and spending a year at Barksdale Fld, LA, training B-26 crews for the European Theater, Nevitt volunteered for a second combat tour with the 5th Air Force, and was assigned to the 71st Bomb Squadron (M) of the 38th Bomb Group (M)—the “Sunsetters”—in December 1944. From bases in Morotai in the Netherlands East Indies, Tacloban and Luzon in the Philippines, and Okinawa, Nevitt flew (as pilot or co-pilot) on B-25 missions that hit targets in New Guinea, Borneo, the Philippines, Formosa, Okinawa, and Japanese shipping throughout the western Pacific, including Hainan Island and the China coast, the Korean coast, and the region around Kyushu, Japan. Major Nevitt was later named Commander of the 71st , known as the “Wolf Pack”, and by war’s end had flown an additional 34 combat missions.
After his discharge, Nevitt served in the Texas Air National Guard. He was recalled during the Korean conflict and was discharged again in 1954 as Lt. Colonel. He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Asiatic Pacific Theater Campaign Medal with ten Battle Stars, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Theater Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star, the Victory Medal, and the Army of Occupation Medal. A final note: Rodney’s brother Bill (Col. William R. Nevitt, now deceased) was a highly accomplished fighter pilot in Europe during WW II; his P-47 Thunderbolt was shot down over southern Germany late in the war, but Bill survived the crash, evaded German soldiers, and made it back to Allied forces.
S/Sgt. Kent Gillum
Gillum served as a B-24 nose gunner with the 451st Bomb Group, 724th Squadron, flying missions out of Italy. His many missions include the raids against Ploesti, Romania, and the Georgian oil storage facility, the third most heavily defended target in Europe. After 19 missions by the 724th against Ploesti and a three-day final assault, 90% of the target’s oil production capability was destroyed.
Havey served in the Army in the 42nd Rainbow Division and fought in 3 major battles: The Battle of Northern France, The Battle of the Bulge, The Battle of Germany, and helped liberate Dachau Concentration Camp. He was wounded in the Battle of Germany on 01 March 1945 earning the Purple Heart, as well as a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for Meritorious Achievement against the enemy, and the Silver Star for Valor in combat
Celeste Graves was born August 30, 1919 in Magnolia, Texas. In 1935 at age 15, she graduated from Magnolia High school in a graduating class of eight students. After leaving Magnolia for short periods of time for college and then during World War II and the Korean War to join her husband, a radio operator at several military bases in California, she and her husband moved back to Magnolia to raise their children.
During World War II, she was a dispatcher for the Civilian Pilot Training Program for Aviation Enterprises at Municipal Airport in Houston, Texas. A contract was awarded the company to train women pilots to free up men for combat. Graves stayed on as dispatcher.
The beginning of the WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots) began in Houston as the AAFWFTD (Army Air Force Women Flight Training Detachment). Later, the combined Air Force programs were officially named WASP.
Graves has written a book A View From The Doghouse about these brave women.
| Maj. Terry Pappas
Pappas spent 41 years flying aircraft, primarily for the USAF and NASA. His career started during the Vietnam era, conducting officer training while in college at the University of Florida, being commissioned there and attending AF pilot training at Reese AFB in Lubbock, Texas in 1971. After earning his wings he became an instructor pilot in the T-38A, training USAF and foreign national pilots in that high performance aircraft.
He went on to fly numerous aircraft, in and out of the Air Force, to include the B-52G, while stationed at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas, ’81-‘85. From there he was selected to fly the mach 3 plus, SR-71, stationed at Beale AFB, California from ’85-’90. When the Blackbird ended its operational service of over two decades in 1990, he transferred to Edwards AFB, near Los Angeles, and served as an instructor pilot and flight examiner in the T-38A for the Air Force Flight Test Center, until he retired from the AF in 1994.
Pappas flew Learjets with camera systems onboard filming aerial scenes for the movie industry for a couple years. Then he accepted a position as a demonstration pilot for an aircraft manufacturer. There he demonstrated new business jets to chief pilots and company presidents around the world. He flew for a privately held business in Las Vegas, Nevada for two years before accepting a position as an Aerospace Engineer and Research Pilot with NASA in 1998. There his duties included: T-38 Project Pilot, IP for astronauts in T-38, Gulfstream I, II and III executive transport, Super Guppy transport for outsize cargo, and DC-9 for micro-gravity research flights. He also managed a number of training functions for Aircraft Operations Division. He has over 10,000 flying hours, most of which are hour-long flights, with numerous instrument approaches and landings.
Pappas retired from NASA in Oct 2011 and spends most of his time now pursuing his writing projects. His hobbies include golf and tennis. He lives with his wife and two children in Houston, Texas.
Col. George E. "Bud" Day
In 1942, Day enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Pacific during World War II. He then served two tours as a fighter-bomber pilot during the Korean War flying the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. Day then volunteered for a tour in Vietnam and was assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Tuy Hoa Air Base in April 1967. At that time, he had more than 5,000 flying hours, with 4,500 of them in fighters.
On June 25, 1967, with extensive previous service flying two tours in F-100s, Major Day was made the first commander of Detachment 1, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 37th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Phu Cat Air Base. Under the project name "Commando Sabre", twin-seat USAF F-100Fs were evaluated as a Fast Forward Air Control ("Fast FAC") aircraft in high threat areas. Using the call sign "Misty", the name of Day's favorite song, his detachment of four two-seat F-100Fs and 16 pilots became pioneer "Fast FACs"over Laos and North Vietnam.
On August 26, 1967, Major Day was flying an F-100 on his 65th mission into North Vietnam, directing a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs in an air strike against a surface-to-air missile site when anti-aircraft fire crippled the aircraft, forcing the crew to eject. In the ejection, Day's right arm was broken in three places when he struck the side of the cockpit. Day was unable to contact the rescue helicopter by survival radio and was quickly captured by North Vietnamese local militia.
On his fifth night of captivity when he was still within 20 miles of the Demilitarized Zone, Day escaped from his initial captors despite his serious injuries. Day crossed the DMZ back into South Vietnam, becoming the only U.S. prisoner of war to escape from North Vietnam. But within 2 miles of the U.S. Marine firebase at Con Thien and after 12–15 days of evading, he was recaptured, this time by a Viet Cong patrol. Taken back to his original camp, Day was tortured for escaping, breaking his right arm again.
Day was then moved to several prison camps near Hanoi, where he was periodically beaten, starved, and tortured. In December 1967, Day shared a cell with Navy Lieutenant Commander and future Senator and Presidential Candidate John McCain. On March 14, 1973, Day was released after five years and seven months as a North Vietnamese prisoner.
On March 4, 1976, President Gerald Ford awarded Day the Medal of Honor for his personal bravery while a captive in North Vietnam.
At his retirement Day had nearly 8,000 total flying hours, 4,900 in single engine jets, and had flown the F-80 Shooting Star, F-84 Thunderjet, F-100 Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, F-4 Phantom II, A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair II, CF-5 Tiger, F-15 Eagle jet fighters.
T/Sgt. Charles Hamlin
Hamlin served as a B-17 ball turret gunner with the 385th Bomb Group (H), 8th Air Force, stationed at Great Ashfield, England. In 1944 alone, he flew 35 missions, mostly as a ball turret gunner and celebrated his 17th birthday on a mission to Germany. Prior to retirement, his military career included nine years of U.S. embassy duty with service in Mexico, India, and Egypt, along with four years in NATO service in Turkey.
CW 4 Daniel Flores
Daniel Flores is a native Houstonian who started his military career as an infantryman with the 4th Infantry Division, based in Colorado Springs, CO. He graduated from the U. S. Army Basic Training and Infantry School as a Distinguished Honor graduate.
After serving on active duty, he continued his service with the Texas Army National Guard, in the States Special Operations Unit, Co. G 143rd Infantry Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Unit. He conducted several missions along the Texas/Mexico border against the Mexican drug smuggling business and also trained along side the British SAS.
In 1990, Flores was accepted into a newly formed aviation squadron based in Conroe Texas. The 7th Squadron 6th Cavalry Regiment was the United States Army Reserve’s only attack aviation unit that was designated as a Cavalry Squadron. The squadron was established with the AH-1 Cobra helicopter and was certified in the AH-64 Apache helicopter in 1995.
He was activated in 2005 to be deployed to Afghanistan for “Operation Enduring Freedom” as the attack asset for the 10th Mountain Division. During his one year tour, he was witness to the resurgence of the Taliban and participated in some of the fiercest fighting in the Hindu Kush Mountains, in the hotly contested valley in Afghanistan known as the Korengal Valley.
He was featured in a segment about his rescue of an American convoy that was ambushed in the Tagab valley which aired on the Military Channel’s series, “My War diary”. The story is featured in his upcoming book in detail and can still be viewed on the Military channel’s website under the title “Apache rescue”.
T/Sgt. Lorenzo Dow (L.D.) Todd Jr.
Todd joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942. Following Liaison flight training in Texas, he participated in the invasion of Okinawa with the 163rd Liaison Squadron as an L-5 Sentinel pilot.
In addition to continuous combat missions in support of ground operations and artillery spotting, L.D. participated in the heroic evacuation of Marine casualties using Itoman Road as a makeshift runway.
T/Sgt. Raul Baldit
Baldit was a combat infantryman of the 87th division of the third Army. In 1944 his unit entered combat in Frances Alsace-Lorraine. After heavy fighting, his division crossed the German border in the Saar Region on Dec. 15, 1944.
On Dec. 25, 1944, his unit was called upon to take part in the historic counterattack in The Battle of the Bulge. The division raced 200 miles to attack the German Panzer Lehr Division near Bastogne. Sgt. Baldit also participated in the Breaching of the Siegfried Line, Moselle River Crossing, Capturing of Koblenz, Rhine Crossing and the dash across Germany to Plaven, near the Czech border.
Sgt. Mike Kurth
In November of 1990, Mike Kurth enlisted in the Army to become U.S. Army Airborne Ranger. After successfully completing Basic Training, Infantry Training, Basic Airborne Course, and The Ranger Indoctrination Program in April of 1991, he was assigned to 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment. After serving as a Rifleman, Grenadier and Squad Automatic Weapon Gunner, he was selected to attend U.S. Army Ranger School. Upon graduating Ranger School in August 1992 he returned to Bravo Company 1st Platoon but as the Platoon Radio Telephone Oprator (RTO). After a year as the Platoon RTO he was then assigned to 2nd Squad as the Bravo Team Leader.
On 22 August 1993, Bravo Company along other units including Task Force 160th Aviation, Delta Force, and Air Force Pararescue units deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia as part of Task Force Ranger. The operation was "Operation Gothic Serpent". It’s mission was to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Task Force Ranger would conduct several successful missions capturing key personnel, weapons, drugs and counterfeit money.
The most notable mission would take place on 3 October 1993, and would later be called the "Battle of the Black Sea". The events of Oct 3rd would later be portrayed in the book and movie Blackhawk Down. The battle spanned over 18 hours and involved the fiercest firefight since Vietnam. After the battle, nineteen Americans had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
After returning to the States, Kurth was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his actions on October 3rd. He would get his chance to be a Team Leader and attended the Army Jumpmaster Course and Army Pathfinder School. Sgt. Kurth would finish his six year career with the Ranger Regiment as the Bravo Company Anti-Tank Section SGT.
In 2004, Kurth co-authored along with five other members of Task Force Ranger The Battle of Mogadishu: First Hand Accounts from the Men Of Task Force Ranger. He continues to stay connected to today’s Rangers by mentoring young men who want to earn a spot in the Ranger Regiment through the website ArmyRanger.com.