Funeral Held For Most Decorated Marine Pilot

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    #1 syscom3, Jun 28, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2009
    Funeral Held For Most Decorated Marine Pilot - Portland News Story - KPTV Portland

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- The most decorated aviator in Marine Corps history was laid to rest in Portland on Friday.

    Colonel Ken Reusser was the only pilot to survive being shot down in three wars: the South Pacific during World War II, in Korea and the war in Vietnam.

    Reusser was revered by many veterans in Oregon and the U.S. Marine Corps for his exploits.

    Marines in dress uniforms joined Reusser's friends and family at the funeral on Friday at the New Hope Church in southeast Portland.

    Reusser was born in Cloverdale, in Tillamook County in 1920. He gained his first air combat experience at Guadalcanal and later at Okinawa.

    He won a second Navy Cross and other awards for his service in Korea, and during the Vietnam war, Reusser commanded a marine aircraft group.

    Friends remembered him for his courage and dignity.

    "Ken Reusser we know was a hero many times over. He did everything that his country called upon him to do and more," Reusser's friend Harley Wedel said.

    Reusser was buried Friday afternoon at Willamette National Cemetery with full military honors.

    From wiki:
    Colonel Kenneth L. Reusser is the most decorated Marine Aviator in history, having flown 213 combat missions, earning 59 medals, including two Navy Crosses while flying in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He is the only aviator to survive being shot down in all three wars.
    World War II
    First saw combat as part of VMF-122, assigned to Guadalcanal flying the F4F Wildcat. While assigned to the squadron, he was forced to ditch his aircraft in the Pacific after an encounter with the enemy. Injured severely, he was rescued by local islanders who nursed him until word could be passed and a recovery made.
    Ken served as a Captain in Marine Fighting Squadron 314 (VMF-314), and earned his first Navy Cross in combat off Okinawa
    Korean War
    On 5 August 1950, Major Kenneth L. Reusser became the first Marine aviator, and for that matter the first Marine, to be decorated for gallantry during the Korean War.
    Flying from the aircraft carrier USS Sicily (CVE-118 ), Maj Reusser led a four-plane flight of Vought F4U Corsairs from Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 214, the "Black Sheep," in a low-level attack. They savaged a North Korean truck park and tank repair facility in the occupied port city of Inchon.
    With his aircraft heavily damaged by ground fire, he returned to the Sicily for repairs and rearmament, then made his way back to Inchon. In the face of fierce ground fire, he destroyed an oil storage facility. With his bombs and rockets expended, Maj Reusser next attacked a camouflaged oil tanker at anchor in the harbor, raking it with 20 mm gunfire until the ship exploded, almost blowing him out of the air. For his actions Reusser was awarded for the second time in his career the naval service's second highest award for gallantry, the Navy Cross.
    Vietnam
    Served as commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16
    Died June 19, 2009


    Highly decorated Marine pilot dies at 89 - MarineCorpsTimes.com

    Valor awards for Kenneth Reusser | Military Times Hall of Valor


    Highly decorated Marine pilot dies at 89

    Received 59 medals for actions in three conflicts
    The Associated Press
    Posted : Saturday Jun 27, 2009 10:07:49 EDT

    CLACKAMAS, Ore. — Retired Marine Corps Col. Kenneth L. Reusser, who was called the most decorated Marine aviator in history and was shot down in three wars, has died at age 89.

    Reusser flew 253 combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was shot down in all three, five times in all.
    His 59 medals included two Navy Crosses, four Purple Hearts and two Legions of Merit.
    In 1945, while based in Okinawa, he stripped down his F4U-4 Corsair fighter and intercepted a Japanese observation plane at a high altitude. When his guns froze, he flew his fighter into the observation plane, hacking off its tail with his propeller.
    In 1950 in Korea, he led an attack on a North Korean tank-repair facility at Inchon, then destroyed an oil tanker almost blowing himself out of the sky.
    In Vietnam he flew helicopters and was leading a rescue mission when his Huey was shot down. He needed skin grafts over 35 percent of his bburned body.
    Reusser, who lived in the Portland suburb of Milwaukie, was born Jan. 27, 1920, the son of a minister.
    Reusser raced motorcycles to help pay for college and earning a pilots license before World War II.
    After retiring from the Marine Corps, he worked for Lockheed Aircraft and the Piasecki Helicopter Corp. He remained active in veterans groups.
    Reusser died June 20 of natural causes. He is survived by his wife, Trudy; and sons, Richard C. and Kenneth L. Jr. Interment was Friday in Willamette National Cemetery.
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    #4 wheelsup_cavu, Jun 28, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
    [​IMG]


    Wheelsup
     
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    I met Colonel Reusser many many years ago at one of the Black Sheep reuinions, and he garnered a HUGE amount of respect from the guys gathered... My Grandfather also spoke very highly of him....

    A great man and an inspirational leader, he will be missed by many...
     
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    Sounds like an incredible man!

    :salute:
     
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    How cool you got to meet him, Les.

    :salute:
     
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    :salute: Farewell to a great patriot.
     
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