Five former military members with Michigan connections were recently enshrined in the Air Zoo’s Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.
The 2010 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinees include: Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Richard Bodycombe, World War II pilot, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Hal W. Vincent, Marine combat and test pilot, 1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz, Army flight nurse, Maj. Louis J. Sebille, military pilot; and Lt. Col. John Slattery, military helicopter pilot. A special presentation also was made to the Womens Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
During World War II, Bodycombe earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart as a B-24 Liberator pilot. In 1955, he was selected as a founding faculty member of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Following that key assignment, he began a career in the U.S. Air Force Reserve that resulted in his selection as a major general, and eventually in his appointment as commander of all U.S. Air Force Reserve federal forces. Bodycombe retired from the Reserve in 1982 and pursued a civilian flying career that resulted in his selection as Ford Motor Co.’s chief pilot. In 1983, he joined a small group of dedicated Detroit-area residents who formed the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti. His flying hours total more than 21,500 with qualification in more than 50 types of military and civilian aircraft. Bodycombe grew up in Grosse Pointe and currently resides in Ann Arbor.
While serving in Vietnam, Vincent flew 242 combat missions in eight types of fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft. He was the first Marine to fly Mach 2 and he earned a total of 18 combat awards—including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medals. He is the only pilot to have flight tested or flown every active duty jet fighter in each service (165 aircraft types flown through his retirement) and graduated from all three military services fighter weapons schools. In 2005, he received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. Vincent was raised in Otsego and lives in San Juan Capo, Calif.
Lutz was born in Freeland. While enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps, she participated in six separate battle campaigns over a 20-month period, flew combat missions, and conducted all-weather medical evacuations in Tunisia, Italy and France. On Nov. 1, 1944, she was fatally injured in a Medevac C-47 crash near St. Chaumon, France. At the time of her death, Lutz was perhaps the most experienced flight nurse in the U.S. military service. She had the most evacuation sorties (196), most combat hours flown by any flight nurse (814) and the most patients transported by any flight nurse (3500+). Lutz has been honored with an 800-patient hospital ship — the USAHS Aleda E. Lutz — and a C-47 cargo plane christened Miss Nightingale III in her honor. In 1990, Saginaw Veterans Hospital was rededicated as the Aleda E. Lutz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Sebille was born in Harbor Beach. As a 1st lieutenant, he flew the first low level attack ever attempted by B-26s against targets in Europe. In 1950, he led a flight of P-51s, armed with 500-pound bombs and rockets, on a strike against enemy troops advancing on Pusan. He was able to release only one of two bombs on his first pass, but he and his wingmen continued strafing and launching rockets against the enemy. When Sebille’s P-51 was damaged by ground fire, he elected to dive into the enemy position with his .50 caliber guns firing all the way.
Slattery was born and raised in Bay City. As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, he flew more than 100 life-saving missions and received 30 citations including the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star, an Air Medal with 15 Clusters, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with two Silver Stars and the Vietnam Air Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Wings. After retiring as a lieutenant colonel, he became the curator for the Helicopter Association International and the Helicopter Foundation International. He had more than 6,000 hours of flying time in rotorcraft. Slattery passed away in 2008.
The WASP were presented with the Spirit of Flight Award at the ceremony, which highlights the outstanding achievements of aviation/space organizations. The WASP was an organization of 1,102 civilian female pilots trained to fly fighter, bomber, transport and training aircraft during World War II in defense of America’s freedom. They were the first women in U.S. history to fly military aircraft under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Forces and were the catalyst for revolutionary reform in the integration of female pilots in the Armed Services. The WASP still living in Michigan include: Sylvia Granader of Beverly Hills; Doris B. Nathan of Kalamazoo; Dorothy J. Eppstein of Kalamazoo; Mildred Jane Doyle of Grand Rapids; Margaret W. McGlinn of Hillman; Suzanne U. Parish of Kalamazoo; Ruth M. Anderson of Whitehall; Margaret Garvelink of Lawton; and Virginia Swartz of Milan.
Albion College student and Battle Creek resident Andrew Layton was presented with the Harriet Quimby Award for his contributions to the history of flight through his books. By the age of 18, Layton had already written and published two books: “Wolverines in the Sky: Michigan’s Fighter Aces of WWI, WWII and Korea” and “Eagles’ Wings.” He currently serves as a command post controller in the Michigan Air National Guard’s 110th Airlift Wing in Battle Creek and has received the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star.
For more information: AirZoo.org