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May 10, 2011 > 'Greatest Generation' naval aviators will share experiences

'Greatest Generation' naval aviators will share experiences

Submitted By Elizabeth C. Rajs

Five WWII Navy fighter pilots will share their wartime stories and experiences during a special tribute to the Centennial of Naval Aviation on board the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda on May 21. The panel discussion is part of the Hornet's Living Ship Day event in May.

The five Bay Area pilots - two of whom are Navy Aces, a special title for pilots who shot down five or more enemy aircraft in a single day -- will discuss their experiences during a special panel, beginning at 1 p.m. The pilots will tell what it was like to fly fighter planes off aircraft carriers into battle, as well as describe "Ace-in-A-Day," participation in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, known as "The Marianas Turkey Shoot," as well as other topics.

Living Ship Day is a special event on board the Hornet that offers something for everyone. The event includes flight simulations between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., when the museum comes to life as an operating aircraft carrier. Visitors can meet former crew, sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet, enjoy the sights and sounds of naval aviation and witness simulated flight operations as aircraft are lifted to the flight deck and placed into launch position.

Living Ship Day demonstrations are held on the third Saturday of most months. Normal museum hours and admission prices apply. Ample free parking is available across the street from the pier. The USS Hornet Museum is located at 707 W Hornet Ave, Pier 3 in Alameda.

This special panel, Champion of the Skies, is a continuation of the USS Hornet Museum's celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation. The guest speakers include:

Bill Ambrosio of Palo Alto
VF-27 (Fighter Squadron); VF-18; USS Suwannee (CVE 27); USS Bunker Hill (CV 17)
Flying a F6F Hellcat he just missed becoming an Ace as he had four kills. During Korean War, he served on USS Boxer CVA 21

John "Ted" Crosby of Castro Valley
Serving on board USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) flying F6F Hellcats, he shared in downing a Betty bomber. Later he served on USS Hornet (CV 12) where he scored five victories, including three in a day to become an Ace.

Ralph Foltz of Pleasant Hill
Fighter Pilot, F6F "Hellcat", USS Essex (CV 9). His 1st victory, during "The Marianas Turkey Shoot" became an Ace downing his fifth victory over Manila Bay. After war he served in VF-64, flying the F4U "Corsair", off USS Boxer during Korean War

Frank Hearne of Novato
Flew the SBD Dauntless dive bomber off the USS Enterprise (CV 6), during the Battle of the Philippine Sea, known as "The Marianas Turkey Shoot."

Dick Herman of Walnut Creek
A TBM Avenger pilot who had a tense and frightening flight through the "Bermuda Triangle" before the famous incident that resulted in four Avengers lost at sea.

A registered state and national historic landmark, the ship is permanently berthed at 707 W. Hornet Avenue, Pier 3 in Alameda, CA. The ship is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular museum admission is $6-$15 for youths through adults and there is ample free parking across from the pier. For more information, visit or call (510) 521-8448.

Greatest generation naval aviators
Saturday, May 21
1 p.m.
USS Hornet Museum
707 W. Hornet Avenue, Pier 3, Alameda
(510) 521-8448

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