From American Fighter Aces Volume 24, No.1 Winter 2007

Last Flight


Richard L. Braun

Richard L. Braun, 88, died Aug. 13, 2006 at Rex Hospital
in Raleigh, N.C.  He was born October 1917 in Los Angeles, Calif., and graduated with a BA from Stanford Univ. in 1941.

Braun entered naval flight training and was commissioned
a marine second lieutenant in 1942. He flew three combat
tours with VMF-215 a Corsair squadron. In January 1944,
he had five aerial victories over Zekes to become one
of ten aces of VMF-215.

He remained in the Corps and flew AD-1 Skyraiders
as commander of VMA-121 in Korea. Braun attended
Georgetown Univ. law school obtaining his law degree
while still in the service in 1953. He served in the
Marine Corps JAG and as the commandant’s personal
pilot in the late 1950’s.

Retiring in 1961 as a lieutenant colonel he started his
second career in law school academia, later becoming the founding dean at the Univ. of Dayton law school. He also
served as deputy ass’t attorney general for the U.S. Dept.
of Justice, Criminal Division in Washington, D.C.

Surviving are his wife, Anne C. Braun of Phoenix, Ariz.,
son Richard L. “Tony” Braun, II of Grosse Pointe, Mich.,
Susan Payne of Raleigh, five grandchildren and ten step-children. He was preceded in death by two wives, Virginia
and Libby, and son, Jeff Braun.

The family requests memorials be made to Richard L. Braun Scholarship, c/o Norman A. Wiggins School of Law, Campbell Univ., Buis Creek, N.C. 27506.
Condolences to:


Richard O. (Rod) Devine

Richard Oakley (Rod) Devine, 89, passed away at
College Place, Wash., a Walla Walla suburb on
January 13, 2006. Born in Walla Walla on February 18, 1916.  Devine entered the Navy flight training program in 1940
and graduated at Pensacola, Fla. in August 1941.
Assigned to VF-10, he flew F6F Hellcats off of the
USS Enterprise (CV-6) from January to June 1944.

On June 19, 1944, during the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot"
he was credited with downing four enemy aircraft to become
an ace with a total of eight confirmed. Devine remained in
the Navy following WWII and served in a variety of command positions, including command of VF-84 and VA-56 and air
officer on the Shangri-La. Promoted to captain in 1961,
he retired from the Navy in 1966.   


Ralph E. Elliott, Jr.,

Ralph E. Elliott, Jr., a U.S.  Navy Capt. (Ret.) died of complications of the flu Dec 4, 2006, at an assisted
living facility in Orlando, Fla., at the age of 86.

Growing up in Illinois he left his studies at the Univ. of
Illinois after three years to enlist as a naval aviation cadet
in 1941. Following flight training he was a flight instructor
and later in 1943 to the “jeep” carrier USS Savo Island in
the Pacific combat zone. During the Leyte Gulf operations,
he was credited with downing four Frances bombers and
two Tojos to become an ace. Overall he was credited
with 9 1/2 confirmed victories. 

Upon return to the states he became one of the youngest squadron C.O.s at the age of 24 - VC27. He had a grand
career in the navy and attended law postgraduate school,
Naval War College and served on the staffs of CINCNELM
in London and COM Fair Jax. He had commanded VF-174
on the USS Coral Sea and was executive officer of the USS Independence, retiring in 1963 he than practiced law in Jacksonville, Fla., for the next 33 years. He filed the only
lawsuit that has ever been successful against a sitting U.S. president when Nixon withheld funding for the Cross Florida Barge Canal as the attorney for the Canal Authority. 

Ralph is survived by his wife Marylou, his daughters
Joanne Rodgers of Los Gatos, Calif., Patricia Klock of Orange Park, Fla., Kay and Kimberly Elliott of Boston, Mass., his sons Ralph III of Jacksonville, and Stephan of Orlando and several step children. Donations may be made to NMCRS, Box 48, Jacksonville, Fla.


Hayden A. “Buck” Gregory

Hayden A. “Buck” Gregory passed away on his 92nd birthday, Friday January 12, 2007. Born in 1915 Buck attended Texas Tech Univ. and than volunteered to become a naval aviator during WWII. He was assigned to fly submarine patrols
when his flight training was completed in 1943.

In 1944, he was trained as a fighter pilot and achieved
the distinction of becoming an American Fighter ace, having shot down five or more enemy planes, which he accomplished
in the Pacific Theater flying a Grumman F6F Hellcat. 
At war’s end, Buck had earned our nation’s third-highest
medal, the Silver Star, in addition to numerous other
awards.  He was chosen as one of the first instructors at the Navy’s “Top Gun” school, and remained in the U.S. Navy
until 1968. when he retired at the rank of Commander. 

Buck and his family lived a nomadic military life and
particularly enjoyed one assignment in Naples, Italy. 
He and his first wife, Gladys, resided in Albuquerque, N.M. 
for several years until her death in 1986.  He then married
the former Norvell Schmidly in 1987 and moved to Levelland, Texas.  Upon her death in 2003, Buck relocated back to Albuquerque to be near family.  He is survived by a brother, Buford, and wife Juanita, and a sister-in-law, Jackie, all of Lubbock, Texas.  He had three children by Gladys:
Jerry Gregory and his wife, Therese of Albuquerque;
Bob Gregory and his wife, Linda of Albuquerque; and
Dr. Nancy Lockwood of Carmel, Calf.  He is also survived
by his stepchildren: Dr. David Schmidly and wife, Janet
of Stillwater, OK; and Stephen Schmidly and wife, Susan
of Greensboro, N.C. He was blessed with nine grandchildren,
and seven great-grandchildren.

 In lieu of flowers. contributions in his name may be
made to the charity of your choice.


Robert W. "Bob" McClurg

Col. Robert W."Bob" McClurg, 87, passed away at his home in Skaneateles, N.Y. on Jan 20, 2007. Born February 1919, in Coshocton, Ohio he lived in New Castle, Pa, moving to Syracuse N.Y. in 1951 and to Skaneateles in 1987. Bob graduated from Westminster College; attended Pennsylvania State College and Pittsburgh Univ. where he received a master's degree.

He attended the U.S. Naval Academy graduating as a 2nd Lt.
in the Marine Corps. He became a carrier-trained pilot and was sent to the South Pacific Theater as a fighter pilot. He became
a member of VMF-214, the famed "Black Sheep" Squadron
and participated in the Guadalcanal and Rabaul campaigns.
He became a fighter ace with seven aerial victories, earning numerous awards and decorations. He received an honorary discharge from the Marine Corps in 1946, and retired as
Lt. Col. He wrote his memoir of his experiences with the
Black Sheep in his book, On Boyington's Wing.

He worked for Universal Rundle Corp. in New Castle, Pa.
He was sent to NY State in 1951 and in 1955 became the Northeast district manager. Bob then formed his own business as a manufacturer’s representative in the plumbing and
heating field with his son Mark. Bob served as Deacon and
Elder in the Park Central Presbyterian Church.  He loved hunting, fishing, golf and camping.

His wife of 58 years, the former Julia Ferguson; his son Scott; his daughter, Mary Beth Charters; and his eight grandchildren survive him. Bob is predeceased, in 1996 by his son Mark.
Bob donated his body to University Hospital to benefit medical research. Contributions may be made in Bob's name to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, P.O.Box 3008, Princeton, NJ (; or SAVES, 26 Fennell St., Skaneateles, NY 13152, 


C. Joseph Rosbert

Flying Tiger ace Joe Rosbert, 89, passed away in Katy,
Texas on January 7, 2007. Joe was born January 19, 1917
in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from Villanova College
in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. He entered the U.S. Navy for Naval Aviation
Cadet Training, and received his wings and commission
as Ensign in April 1940.

Ensign Rosbert became a PBY aircraft commander - a rare achievement for a young pilot. When a recruiter for the American Volunteer Group came thru in 1941, he opted
For the adventure of becoming a fighter pilot for the Chinese. Released from his reserve Commission, he arrived in Rangoon, Burma in late summer, transitioning into the Curtiss P-40.
He is credited with shooting down four "Nates" and two
Japanese light bombers. At Chennault’s request he joined
the China National Aviation Corporation to fly supplies over
the Hump. During the last of his 150 trips over the Himalayas, Rosbert crashed at 14,000 feet and was missing for two months. He joined Chennault’s Civil Air transport (CAT), where he remained for thirteen years, becoming vice president of
the airlines.

In 1960, Rosbert and his White Russian émigré wife,
Lydia opened a hotel and restaurant, on the Spanish island
of Majorca. Returning to the states in 1972, he relocated to North Carolina to become a writer, publishing “Flying Tiger
Joe’s Adventure Story Cookbook” in 1985 and “The Pictoral History of Civil Air Transport”, in 1990.


Edward Trebell Waters

Edward Trebell “Pee Wee” Waters, 86, a highly decorated
WWII fighter ace pilot flew his last mission on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2006. Waters was born May 30, 1920, in the village
of Pentagon Moore, Cornwall, England. In May 1925, his family immigrated to the U.S. to Detroit, Michigan. 

He completed 1-1/2 years of law school at Wayne University before being inducted into the Army as a private. Transferring
to the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet he received his wings and commission in Sept. 1942. He was assigned to the 96th Fighter squadron, 82nd Fighter Group in 1943 the group flew
to Telergma, Algeria.   Flying P-38s he was credited with seven confirmed aerial victories. Returning to the states he was a
pilot instructor, test pilot and later director of maintenance.
He left the service as a captain in 1945 attending the
University of California.

He worked for 15 years for Pacific Automotive and
14 years for American Airlines, retiring as the manager
of customer relations. His WWII flight jacket is displayed
in the Smithsonian Institute. He was an Eagle scout, scout Master, and president of the Junior Baseball Association.

He is survived by his wife Beth; children Ellen Waters, Brett
and Dawn Waters, Brian and Michelle Waters and Nicholas
and Melinda Jenkins, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Friends can donate in his memory to Paralyzed Veterans of America, 801 18th St. N.W. Washington D.C. 2006-3517.