Memories of a World War II pilot

Special to The TribuneMay 25, 2014 

World War II veteran Walter Stacy has just returned from a whirlwind tour of Washington D.C.’s monuments honoring our nation’s veterans. He was hosted by Honor Flight Network and traveled with his son, Richard Stacy. The nonprofit organization, online at www.honorflight.org, intends to host all living veterans. 

Walter Stacy, 90, and his wife Doris, 91, will participate in the Lost at Sea Memorial ceremonies today at 2:45 p.m. at the Cayucos pier plaza. The service honors all those lost at sea, military or civilian. It is supported by the Cayucos Lions and Rotary clubs of Cayucos and Morro Bay.

“I wanted to fly, so I enlisted Sept. 28, 1942, when the Navy created the VT-5 flight training program. They needed pilots,” Stacy recalled.

He was moved every three months. He trained in navigation in Massachusetts, flight training in Tennessee, ground and physical training in Georgia, flew “yellow perils” in Texas and finally got his wings Aug. 8, 1944, in Pensacola, Fla. A member of the dive bombing division, he was “carrier qualified” at Glenview Naval Air Station in Illinois.

Doris, now recognized as a Rosie the Riveter, trained as a sheet metal worker in Springfield, Mass., then was stationed at Bradley Field, Conn.

“I was a WAM (Women’s Aircraft Maintenance Squadron). We fixed the planes as the men damaged them. I made $1,060 in 1943. My point is every one of us filled a space for the men who went to fight the war,” she said.

They were married before Stacy received his orders, and spent part of their honeymoon searching for Stacy’s squadron. “When we got to San Diego, the Navy told us to come back in five days. They couldn’t find my squadron.

When we came back, they sent us to Seattle, then Pasco, Wash., and after a month back to San Diego.”

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamcha @gmail.com or 801-1422.

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