Leadership 100 Years In The Making - WWII and VW Vet Bruce Hunt
by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Veronica Perez
June 4, 2019
“Lead from the front,” responded retired Col. Bruce Hunt when asked about his leadership philosophy. Sitting in front of a P-40 static display, an aircraft he flew many missions on, Hunt recalls details of his time as a pilot like it was yesterday. Hunt is a decorated World War II and Vietnam War veteran who served heroically and persevered through many challenges most people will never face in their lifetime.
A child raised in foster care, he recently celebrated his 100th birthday on February 23, 2019 surrounded by family, friends and the local community. Col. Halsey Burks, 15th wing commander, attended a celebration for Hunt February 25, 2019 and remarked on Hunt’s bravery and courage.
Retired Air Force Col. Bruce Hunt (center front) with his family, friends, and members of the 15th Wing during 100 100th birthday celebration, in Kapolei, Hawaii, February 23, 2019. Hunt is a decorated World War II and Vietnam War veteran who served heroically and persevered through many challenges most people will never face in their lifetime. (Courtesy photo by the Bruce Hunt family)
“Col. Hunt’s wit and intellect were as sharp as they ever were. While his focus today is on his adult children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, you could see a twinkle in his eye and a broader smile on his face when talking about his favorite memories from the Air Force,” said Burks. “His life personifies the very tenets our service adopted as core values long after his retirement—a life of integrity, service, and excellence. Though he doesn’t wear the uniform today, it’s clear to see he still views himself as an Airman!”
Hunt flew nearly 300 combat missions, to include 172 in North Africa and Italy during WWII and 125 combat missions in Vietnam, sometimes enduring antiaircraft fire. Among his awards are the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service medal with bronze cluster to name a few.
Sitting alongside Hunt as he recalls stories from his flying days is his daughter, Cristiana, who recalled her account of traveling the world in a military household. From Virginia to Japan, to Hawaii to D.C., the family stayed resilient because of the strength of Mrs. Hunt.
“For me, nothing would ever happen to Dad. It just didn’t enter my mind that anything could ever happen, but I don’t think that was the case for my Mom,” said Cristiana. “I think she was constantly waiting for that knock on the door. But she showed amazing strength because she never ever let her fear surface. It wasn’t until later on that I realized that it was always right under the surface.”
Bruce and Ruth Hunt were married for 70 years. She passed away two years ago, but her spirit lives on in the Hunt family. “She was a good military wife,” said Hunt.
Asked what the secret is to living 100 years Hunt said, “The first thing you have to do is make it to 99.”