Navy flier earns Distinguished Flying Cross after 60 years

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  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Navy flier earns Distinguished Flying Cross after 60 years

    *Weldon B. Johnson*
    The Arizona Republic
    Feb. 20, 2008 11:26 AM

    It has been more than 60 years since Sun Lakes resident Joseph Bunting
    flew missions hunting German submarines. This month, he finally earned
    formal recognition from the Navy for his war efforts.

    Bunting, now 87, was a Naval aviator during World War II. He flew in a
    PB4Y-1 Liberator, a B-24 bomber modified for its use by the Navy. His
    squadron's mission was to fly long stretches over the ocean at night, at
    an altitude of just 500 feet, hunting for German submarines.

    The squadron's ability to fly these missions at night made it difficult
    for German subs to surface and recharge their batteries, which limited
    the submarines' effectiveness. The mission was vital to the success of
    the Normandy invasion, so it wasn't hard to see why the squadron
    deserved the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. The problem was,
    no one had ever put in for the honor during the war.

    In 2004 Bunting went to a reunion where he met other Navy pilots who had
    the medals. He learned then it was simply a matter of providing the
    necessary documentation to the Navy for his crew to be included.

    "They told us then that if we didn't hear anything for a couple of
    years, not to be surprised," Bunting said. "I guess they're pretty busy
    around there."

    Several years passed before Bunting checked on the status of his
    application. When he spoke to a Navy representative, he learned they
    never received his request. So he resubmitted the paperwork and also
    wrote a letter to Senator John McCain.

    On Feb. 10, Bunting received the medals in a ceremony at the Navy
    Operational Support Center in Phoenix. It was a training weekend for the
    local Navy Reserve unit, so the medal was presented there.

    "I just as soon would have had someone come out here and give me the
    medal and shake my hand," Bunting said. "But (Public Affairs officer Lt.
    Patrick Callan) said, 'Mr. Bunting, we have all these young people in
    the reserves, if you would consider it, we'd very much appreciate it if
    you would let us present it to you in front of our people. Most of them
    don't know World War II veterans.' "

    Callan said having Bunting receive his medals in front of men and women
    currently in uniform was the right thing to do.

    "The Navy feels that it is important to recognize our WWII veterans for
    their distinguished service," Callan said. "Our ceremony had the dual
    purpose of recognizing Lt. Bunting and acknowledging the generation of
    Americans who are WWII vets."

    Bunting accepted the invitation and attended the ceremony with his wife
    Jean, his two sons and their families.

    "It almost made me cry," Bunting said. "After it was over about 40 or 50
    of them lined up just to shake my hand."
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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