View the service history of actor:
A1C Fred Ward
US Air Force
View his Service Profile on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: A marvelous character actor with intense eyes, a sly grin and somewhat grizzled appearance, Fred Ward has nearly 70 appearances under his belt in many tremendous films.
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View the service history of actor:
A1C George Lindsey
US Air Force
View his service history on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: Best remembered as the loveable “Goober Pyle” on the “Andy Griffith Show”, Lindsey graduated in 1952 with a teaching certificate and a degree in biological science and physical education. He joined the Air Force and was stationed at Pinecastle Air Force Base in Orlando, where he was recreation director.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was a rookie in the fall of 2001, the first female F-16 pilot ever at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the District of Columbia Air National Guard 113th Wing located at Joint Base Andrews, Camp Springs, Maryland. She had grown up smelling jet fuel, as her father, retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Penney, was a veteran air racer who flew jets in Vietnam and was a flight captain with United Airlines at the time. She got her pilot’s license when she was a literature major at Purdue. She planned to be a teacher. But during a graduate program in American studies, Congress opened air combat aviation to women and Penney was nearly first in line. “I signed up immediately,” Penney says. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot like my dad.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, Penney and others from her squadron had just finished two weeks of air combat training in Nevada. They were sitting at a briefing table when someone looked in to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center. When it happened once, they assumed it was some yahoo in a Cesna. Word slowly filtered in that it was not a small private plane, but two commercial airplanes that had slammed into the Twin Towers in New York; then, that a third plane had flown into the Pentagon; and finally, that a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was heading toward Washington, D.C. to possibly take out the Congress or the White House.
Penney and her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, were ordered to stop United Airlines Flight 93 from reaching the nation’s capital and hitting its intended target. But there was no time to arm their F-16s, which had only dummy training ammo on board – no incendiary high-explosive bullets and no missiles. They were flying the only missiles they had.
She and Col. Marc Sasseville made a desperate pact – they would be kamikaze pilots, on a suicide mission, to stop Flight 93 from hitting Washington at any cost.
He planned to strike the plane’s cockpit. Without batting an eye, the petite, blonde, 25-year old Penney, one of the Air Force’s first female fighter pilots – and who had never “scrambled” a jet fighter before – replied, “I’ll take [down] the tail.”
“We wouldn’t be shooting it down – we would be ramming the aircraft, because we didn’t have weapons on board,” Penney said in an interview with the Washington Post. She added, “I gave some thought to whether I would have time to eject, but I had to be sure. You only get one chance. You don’t want to eject and then miss. You have to stick with it the whole way.”
What made her mission more terrifying was her knowledge that her father was a flight captain for United Airlines at the time, flying an East Coast rotation that could have included Flight 93. It turns out that her father had been piloting United 93 earlier in the day but had gotten off at Boston, something she had no way of knowing at the time.
On that cool, clear morning, Penney jammed the throttle of her unarmed F-16 fighter jet at Andrews Air Force Base into a roaring “scramble” takeoff, skipping the normal half-hour pre-flight, knowing that if her mission was successful, she would not be coming back.
But none of her thousands of hours in the air quite compared with the urgent rush of launching on what was meant to be a one-way flight to a midair collision.
“It was so surreal because the air space was so quiet,” she recalled. “I really didn’t have much emotion or time to reflect that day because I was focused on getting the job done, but there was significant adrenalin.” She muttered a fighter pilot’s prayer – “God, don’t let me f**k up” – and followed her commander into the sky under full military take-off power, afterburners scorching their trail. Their flight path from Andrews took them over the Pentagon, still billowing smoke as service members and employees and rescue personnel desperately worked to contain the blaze and save lives.
What she and Sasseville didn’t know it at the time, Flight 93 had already crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. She didn’t have to take out an airliner full of innocent civilians, the hostages on board were willing to do just what the two Guard pilots had been willing to do: give their lives for their country.
Her mission soon changed to helping clear and establish a defensive cap over Washington’s airspace and escorting Air Force One, with then-President George W. Bush aboard, to Andrews Air Force Base.
Their lives were spared, but many were lost, including that of a family friend.
One of John Penney’s best work buddies and cubicle mate back at United’s pilot training center, Captain Jason Dahl, was the pilot of United 93 that fateful morning.
Had the passengers of that plane not overcome the terrorists and taken it down in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, “Lucky” would have died killing one of her father’s closest friends, among others.
“It would have been utterly devastating for my wife and me,” John Penney told the Post. “With Jason on the plane, it would have been an additional level of grief. But there were thousands of families that learned about the loss of their loved ones that day.”
When Lt. “Lucky” Penney thinks about her role on Sept. 11 and how it will be remembered, she said she hoped media attention on the attacks won’t make Americans fearful of the future.
“We saw so much of the best of ourselves come out that day, with strangers helping strangers and many courageous acts,” she said. “We remembered something more important than ourselves, and that was the community to which we belonged.”
In the time since that clear blue morning, Penney said, “I’ve come to realize that heroism isn’t something unique or possessed by only a chosen few. That courage is there inside of each and every one of us. In the normal, perfectly average people that helped each other in the moments before the towers fell. The first responders. Neighbors and strangers coming together and lifting each other up. Those who sacrificed to undertake the dangerous and difficult task of cleaning up and rebuilding. How, in defiance of those who would threaten our way of life, how we all got up that next morning and went on.”
Penney, a single mother of two girls, works at Lockheed Martin as a director in the F-35 program. She is now a major and no longer a combat flier. She flew two tours in Iraq and she serves as a part-time National Guard pilot, mostly hauling VIPs around in a military Gulfstream (C-38), pursuing a second master’s degree.
“The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves. I was just an accidental witness to history.”
-Heather “Lucky” Penney
View the military history of famous sidekick:
Sp(Q)2c Durward Kirby
View his service profile on Together We Served:
Short Bio: Kirby is most noted as a host, announcer, and sketch comic, particularly on The Garry Moore Show and later on Candid Camera, where he served as Allen Funt’s sidekick from 1961 through 1966.
By Vincent L. Anderson
On this date I had the 2000 to 2400 hours duty as orderly for the Executive Officer, Cdr. W. M. Dillon. The Corporal of the Guard posted me on duty at 2000 hours at the Executive Officers quarters and I reported in to Cdr. Dillon and took my position in the hallway outside his quarters that had a small table and telephone.
About 2030 hours I received a call from the Officer of the Deck, Ensign E. M. Price, that there was a communication man from Ford Island with a secret dispatch for the senior officer afloat and as the Captain was ashore would I come down to the Quarter Deck and bring the communication man to the Executive Officer to accept the dispatch. I first notified Cdr. Dillon who was in his quarters reading and then went and brought the communication man to the Executive Officer, who signed for the dispatch. I then took the communication man back to the Quarter Deck.
When I returned to the Executive Officer’s quarters, Cdr. Dillon handed me a sheet of paper with the names of each of the Division Officers and asked me to find them and have them report to his quarters immediately. I found the Division Officers and informed them that the Executive Officer wanted to see them immediately and they were with Cdr. Dillon when I was relieved at 2400 hours. I never learned what the secret dispatch said. However, the following morning, Friday, December 5, 1941, at 0445 hours preparations were started to get us underway and at 0728 the Lexington got underway and left Pearl Harbor. And at 0940 hours the Lexington landed eighteen VSB planes of Marine Scouting Squadron 321, and at 1103 hours started landing her own air group. Then we found out we were to deliver this Marine Scouting Squadron to Midway Island.
The Lexington crew had no prior warning that we were going to leave Pearl Harbor on Friday, December 5, 1941. However, the only other aircraft carrier in the Hawaiian area at this time was the U.S.S. Enterprise which had left Pearl Harbor on Friday, November 28, 1941, to deliver the Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-211 to Wake Island, and was returning to Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, shortly following the Japanese attack.
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, I had the 0800 to 1200 hours duty as Orderly for the Executive Officer, Cdr. W. M. Dillon, and was posted on duty on the open bridge. At that time the Lexington operating with Task Force 12, was set in condition of readiness III in the anti-aircraft batteries and damage control. Cdr. W. M. Dillon and the ship’s captain, Frederick Carl Sherman were together awaiting our morning flight patrol to take off. At approximately 0815 a ships communications man approached and gave me a dispatch from, “CINCPAC to All U.S. Navy Ships Present Hawaiian Area,” that read, “AIRRAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL”. I immediately took the dispatch to Capt. Sherman, who read and showed it to Cdr. Dillon. Capt. Sherman immediately went into the closed bridge and over the ship’s loudspeakers informed the entire crew we were now at war with Japan. General Quarters was sounded immediately and I was relied and immediately reported to my General Quarters station as a loader on Gun 6 (a 5″ 25 cal. AA Gun).
Now For the Rest of the Story:
In 2001 I came in contact, through the U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 Minutemen Club, with Capt. James B. Johnson, USN (Ret.), a U.S.S. Lexington CV-2 Coral Sea Battle Survivor. He served aboard the Lexington as an Ensign in 1941 and 1942 in the Communication & Intelligence Division. We corresponded both by telephone and email, initially about the search for Amelia Earhart of which we both had some interest and both had done some research. When we discussed our respective duties aboard the Lexington I told him of my December 4, 1941, duty as orderly for Cdr. Dillon and the secret dispatch and as he was a Communication & Intelligence officer on the ship I asked if he had seen the dispatch. He told me he had not seen it but, on the early morning of Friday, December 5, 1941 the Communication & Intelligence Division Officer, Lieut. Comdr. W. Terry, met with all his officers, including Ensign James B. Johnson, and told them that before they would return to Pearl Harbor they would be at War with Japan, but he did not elaborate he just made this comment as a statement of fact.
Another side light of my conversations with Capt. James B. Johnson was what he told me about the day, February 20, 1942, when Lt. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, shot down five of nine Japanese bombers that were attacking the Lexington near Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands Area. I had told him I saw O’Hare shoot down all five as our antiaircraft Gun Battery four was on the port side and the attack was on the starboard aft and we could not fire. He told me that at that time he was an observer on the flight bridge and when O’Hare landed after shooting down the five Japanese bombers, O’Hare told his plane captain James Shinn AMM3c, to refuel and rearm his plane immediately as he wanted to get back in the air. The Air Officer on the flight bridge then told his talker to notify O’Hare he had done enough for one day and when O’Hare was told he shook his fist at the Air Officer.
And Yet another Story:
In June 1951, then Lt. Cdr. James B. Johnston was the Civil Administrator of the Northern Mariana Islands and on June 30, 1951 he accepted the Last Japanese Surrender of World War II on Anatahan Island.
Lieut. Cdr. Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare became the Navy’s first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of nine heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier on Feb. 20, 1942. Even though he had a limited amount of ammunition, he managed to shoot down or damage several enemy bombers. On April 21, 1942, he became the first naval recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II.
O’Hare’s final action took place on the night of Nov. 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy’s first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O’Hare’s Grumman F6F Hellcat was shot down; his aircraft was never found. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O’Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor.
A few years later, Col. Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, suggested that the name of Chicago’s Orchard Depot Airport be changed as a tribute to Butch O’Hare. On September 19, 1949, the Chicago, Illinois airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport to honor O’Hare’s bravery.
View the service history of cartoonist:
SSgt Charles M. Schulz
View his service history on TogetherWeServed.com
Short Bio: In February 1943, Schulz was drafted into the United States Army and was sent to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. He was shipped to Europe two years later, departing Boston on February 5 and arrving in Le Havre, France on February 18, 1945 to fight in World War II with the U.S. 20th Armored Division. The unit spent its first month in unit training. It saw combat at the very end of the war. Elements of the 20th Division participated in the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. Schulz‘s unit was near but did not actually enter the camp. Schulz attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB). Years later he would say his proudest possession was his CIB and when speaking of his wartime service he would simply say, “I was a foot soldier.”