Green Mountain Boys Host World War II Combat Pilot
by U.S. Air Force Lt Col Thomas Graham
September 14, 2018
You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve
been. As the Green Mountain Boys prepare to transition to the fifth
generation fighter F-35 Lightning II in 2019, it’s only fitting they
found time to learn from one of the oldest living combat pilots from
World War II. Pilots from the 134th Fighter Squadron recently
welcomed Mr. Lyndol Palin to the Vermont Air National Guard Base.
Captain Lyndol Palin, is a 96-year old veteran who flew 35
missions as a B-17 pilot in the European theater during the Second
World War. He was assigned to the 8th Air Force, serving with the
385th and 548th Bomb Groups.
Lieutenant Lyndol Palin, WWII
B-17 Pilot and Combat Veteran
Image created by USA Patriotism! from photo
courtesy of Lyndol Palin and U.S. Air National Guard photo
by Staff Sgt. Jonathon Alderman
Mr. Palin grew up in Derby, Vermont, always dreaming to be a
pilot, and he lives there today with his wife of 73 years, Evelyn.
Mr. Palin spent an afternoon on June 3, 2018 at the 158th
Fighter Wing, sharing emotional memories, engaging with the
squadron, touring the base, and sharing stories from his experience
over 70 years ago as a bomber pilot flying missions over Germany.
His recollections were stirring, especially as he recalled the final
mission he flew with the enlisted airmen of his B-17 crew.
“It really set the tone when he told us how his most meaningful
mission was his 32nd, after which he got to tell his aircrew they
could return to the U.S. – that was really inspirational to see how
that affected him,” recalled Captain Dan Lacroix, an F-16 pilot
assigned to the Vermont Air National Guard. Lacroix, a fellow
Vermonter who grew up less than an hour away from Mr. Palin’s
hometown, also appreciated meeting a WWII pilot face-to-face.
“At the [Air Force] Academy, we would have pilots from Vietnam
or Korea talk to our class, but this was the first time I had the
chance to hear from a World War II pilot. I appreciated his good
nature and wit. I hope I’m that sharp at 96,” said Lacroix.
The pilots were equally awed at the daunting risks that the airmen
in the Greatest Generation faced on their combat missions. Mr. Palin
spoke of the limited evasive maneuvers they were able to fly in the
B-17 due to its size and flying in 36-aircraft formations.
World War II pilot and combat
veteran, Mr. Lyndol Palin poses with the 134th Fighter
Squadron in front of a Green Mountain Boy F-16 at the 158th
Fighter Wing. Palin spent an afternoon engaging with the
134th Fighter Squadron at the Vermont Air National Guard
Base, S. Burlington, Vermont on June 3, 2018. (Image created
by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard Photo by
Staff Sgt. Jonathon Alderman)
“After the IP (initial point), the bombardier took over and
guided the aircraft to the target with no evasive action,” Palin
recalled. “The IP to target took probably a minute and a half… more
like an hour and a half,” Palin joked to the appreciative crowd.
On one mission Palin returned with 160 holes in his aircraft.
When asked if there were any combat missions he returned from
without battle damage, he said he couldn’t recall any. Afterwards,
many pilots admired the fortitude required of the airmen to stay on
target with that much
enemy fire all around them.
hard to imagine how much danger those aircrew faced compared to what
we do flying combat missions these days,” mused Major Trevor Callens,
an F-16 pilot with the 134 th Fighter Squadron. “We shouldn’t forget
the sacrifice this generation made,” added Callens as he reflected
on the recent D-Day
Green Mountain Boys, Mr. Palin’s visit was a unique and increasingly
rare opportunity to reconnect with Air Force history and instill
pride in their common values and legacy. The Air Force owes much of
its heritage to the performance of the United States Army Air Corps
during World War II and the spirit of the aircrews who flew, fought,
and won in the flack-strewn skies over Europe. The afternoon’s
events were an experience the Green Mountain Boys will surely
preserve and pass on as they move forward into their next mission,
just as Capt. Palin did nearly 75 years ago.
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Answering The Call |
Our Valiant Troops
Honoring The Fallen |
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