We Lose Frank Losonsky, Last of the AVG Flying Tigers Aged 99

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Frank Losonsky.

They were 311 U.S. military service members recruited to help the Chinese Air Force fend off the Japanese invasion in mid-1941. Credit: U.S. Air Force/Matthew Jurgens
They were 311 U.S. military service members recruited to help the Chinese Air Force fend off the Japanese invasion in mid-1941. Credit: U.S. Air Force/Matthew Jurgens

The American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers was recruited under President Roosevelt before the Pearl Harbor attack dragged the USA into the Second World War in order to help defend China from Imperial Japanese forces.

Twenty-year-old Frank Losonsky from Detroit, Michigan, was one of over three-hundred military personnel who volunteered for the overseas posting in 1941.

“The Flying Tigers were instrumental in delaying Japan from capitalizing on regional natural resources,”
“The Flying Tigers were instrumental in delaying Japan from capitalizing on regional natural resources,”

Remuneration was good but the catch was that Frank had to leave US service in order to qualify before being sent to Kunming.

Under the command of Claire Lee Chennault of the Chines Air Force, the American P40-B aircraft were painted with Chinese colours but were essentially all-USA assets.

Three squadrons of thirty aircraft trained in Burma before the outbreak of War. Losonsky was part of the support crew and became a crew chief with the Hells Angels, maintaining three to four aircraft  sourcing salvage parts and delivering bombs.

Originally deploying to Burma in the summer of 1941, the Flying Tigers didn’t officially begin combat operations until December of 1941.
Originally deploying to Burma in the summer of 1941, the Flying Tigers didn’t officially begin combat operations until December of 1941.

They made their first combat engagement twelve days after the Pearl Harbour attack on December 20th, 1941 and fared so well that their exploits soon became legend.

In all the squadrons received credit for destroying 296 Japanese aircraft while losing just fourteen of their own pilots.

The kill ratio was substantially higher than their contemporaries fighting in Malaya, the Philippines and other locations around the Pacific theatre.

The credit for this was attributed to Chennault’s radical philosophy regarding air combat. He spent time observing Russian and Japanese Air Force tactics and equipment and then analysed the strengths and weaknesses he observed in his own squadrons.

“The Japanese referred to them as ‘gangsters’ because they said they didn’t fight fair,”
“The Japanese referred to them as ‘gangsters’ because they said they didn’t fight fair,”

This way he maintained the combat ready capability of the Flying Tigers at approximately sixty flyers.

Chennault’s rule was that pilots should take on the enemy in small groups and from above, as the P-40s were not as manoeuvrable as the Japanese fighters.

Dive-and-zoom attacks had been used successfully by the Russians but ran contrary to the training the American pilots were used to. Nonetheless this tactic was proved effective time and time again.

The Flying Tiger’s first mission was to intercept ten unescorted Kawasaki Ki-48 bombers. Three were shot down and a fourth crashed before it could make it home.

Thom Patterson

@thompatterson

96-year-old WW2 vet Frank Losonsky enjoyed 2 barrel rolls in this P-40 Warhawk. “No problem,” he said

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Communication intercepts confirmed that just one Ki-48 bomber made it back to Hanoi. The bombs, destined for Kunming, were jettisoned and raids on the city came to an end for the duration of the AVG Flying Tiger’s residency.

It was one of the first military successes of the Pacific War for the USA. The following year, the day the Flying Tigers were disbanded, July 4th, 1942 the Group destroyed four Japanese Ki-27s and incurred no loss to themselves.

The AVG Flying Tigers were officially renamed the 23rd Fighter Group of the US Air Force, which was then taken into the 14th Air Force commanded by General Chennault.

The group went on to further successes and retained the famous nose-art, the shark-mouth and flying tiger decal designed by the Walt Disney company, on the Curtiss P-40 Warhawks.

Not everyone went on to serve in the US military, some decided to remain in China, others, like Frank Losonsky, had to make their own way back around the world.

Losonsky travelled through Asia and South Africa before making his way back to the USA where he met and married his wife.

A “blood chit” issued to the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers. The Chinese characters read, “This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him.”
A “blood chit” issued to the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers. The Chinese characters read, “This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him.”

He then returned to China to work for the state airline helping to circumvent the Japanese blockade of the Burma Road.

Supplies had to be flown from China to India over the Himalayan Mountain Range, otherwise known as ‘the hump’.

When the war finally came to an end Frank Losonsky took a mechanic’s job with the Burmese Trans-Asiatic Airlines where he trained to fly, becoming a pilot.

We Lose Mike Hoare aged 100The Wild Geese Movie Was Based on Him

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Mike Hoare.

. (Photo by Richmond Film Productions Ltd./Victory Films/Varius Entertainment Trading AG/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
. (Photo by Richmond Film Productions Ltd./Victory Films/Varius Entertainment Trading AG/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

The world has lost one of its larger than life figures, Mike Hoare, aged 100.  It is unusual for a mercenary to become a household name, but Michael Hoare, better known as Mad Mike Hoare, became just that.

Personal Life

Mike Hoare was born on the 17th March 1919 in Calcutta India, to Irish parents. At an early age, his parents sent him back to England for his schooling, where he attended Margate College.

Mike Hoare (R) and Belgian Congo Armed Forces evacuating refugees after masacre. (Photo by Priya Ramrakha/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Mike Hoare (R) and Belgian Congo Armed Forces evacuating refugees after masacre. (Photo by Priya Ramrakha/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

On completing his education, he commenced training as an accountant. Mike wanted to attend Sandhurst, but this was not possible, so he joined the Territorial Army.

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At the outbreak of WWII, he joined the London Irish Rifles. Later he transferred to the 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment attached to the Royal Armoured Corps with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

He served with distinction in Burma on the Arakan Campaign and then in India at the Battle of Kohima. He ended the war with the rank of major.

In 1945 he married Elizabeth Stott, and the couple had three children. After the war, he completed his studies and qualified as an accountant in 1948.

Original movie poster for The Wild Geese. Richmond Film Productions (West) Ltd Varius Entertainment Trading A.G.
Original movie poster for The Wild Geese. Richmond Film Productions (West) Ltd Varius Entertainment Trading A.G.

He ran several small businesses in South Africa and true to his adventurous nature, in 1954, he set off to ride a motorcycle from Cape Town to Cairo. Following this adventure, he turned his hand to sunning safaris in the Okavango Delta and in the Kalahari Desert.

Mike was also a keen sailor, and he owned a Baltic trader yacht, named Sylvia, that he sailed in the Mediterranean Sea for a few years.

In 1961 he divorced Elizabeth, and two years later, he married Phyllis Sims, an airline stewardess. The couple had two children.

Mike Hoare detested communism, and this led to the birth of his nickname. His nickname came from East German radio, who described him as a “mad bloodhound,” a moniker that delighted him, and his nickname was born.

Congo Coup

In 1961 he was introduced to Moise Tshombe. Tshombe was a Congolese politician who would later become prime minister of the Congo.

Tshombe employed Hoare to quell a rebellion in Katanga Province, which was attempting to break away from the Republic of the Congo.

Following his success in Katanga, Tshombe employed Hoare again in 1964 to head up a new military unit called 5 Commando, a part of the Armée Nationale Congolaise. Most of the 300 men in this unit were South African. The reason for creating the unit was to combat a revolt known as the Simba Rebellion.

The best-known action of this time was when 5 Commando, in conjunction with CIA operatives, Belgian paratroopers, and other formal and informal forces, worked tirelessly to save 1,600 refugees in Stanleyville from being slaughtered by the Simba rebels.

‘Mad Mike’ Hoare: Legendary Leader of the Wild Geese. A Biography Hardcover – April 1, 2020. Amazon
‘Mad Mike’ Hoare: Legendary Leader of the Wild Geese. A Biography Hardcover – April 1, 2020. Amazon

Hoare and his mixed group managed to save many lives. During this time, Hoare had given his unit the nickname “The Wild Geese,” and they became internationally famous.

This name became the title of a film released in 1978, starring Richard Burton as Colonel Allen Faulkner, a character modeled on Mike Hoare.

Seychelles Coup

All the good publicity that Hoare gained during his time in the Congo was destroyed by his humiliating failure in the infamous “Package Holiday Coup,”; an abject failure.

Hoare knew the Seychelles well, and he despised the socialist government led by President Albert René. With tacit support from the South African and Kenyan governments, Hoare recruited 46 soldiers and planned to enter the Seychelles disguised as a rugby team.

The men passed through customs, but one of them joined the wrong queue and panicked when questioned by customs officers. The found a dismantled AK-47 rifle in his baggage, and the man spilled the beans.

The entire plan was compromised, and in the ensuing chaos, the group hijacked an Air India plane and flew back to South Africa.

On arrival in South Africa, the entire group was incarcerated for six days. The press had a field day with the story, and Mike Hoare was heavily ridiculed with his coup attempt being dubbed the package holiday coup.

Following a conviction for the hijacking of the Air India plane, Mike Hoare was sentenced to 20 years with 10 being suspended. He served 33 months of his sentence.

Later Years

Mike Hoare spent the last years of his life writing his memoirs.  He published The Road to Kalamata, The Seychelles Affair, and Mercenary.

He passed away in a care facility in Durban South Africa on the 2nd February 2020.

Mike Hoare’s son, Chris, summed up his father’s life succinctly by saying, “Mike Hoare lived by the philosophy that you get more out of life by living dangerously, so it is all the more remarkable that he lived more than 100 years.”

Tuskegee Airman Promoted to Brigadier General at the Oval Office

H/T War History OnLine.

Congratulations to Charles E. McGee for your promotion to Brigadier General.

Thank you for your service.

Shame on the DemocRats for sitting on your hands and not helping celebrate  Charles McGee and his promotion.

Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead
Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead

For most people, reaching their 100th birthday is a significant milestone, but for Tuskegee Airman Col. Charles E. McGee (Ret.), it was just one more milestone in a remarkably distinguished career.

Charles E. McGee was born on the 7th December 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio.

His father, Lewis, was a Methodist minister, a social worker, and a teacher, and his mother was Ruth Elizabeth Lewis McGee. He had two siblings, an older brother, Lewis, and a younger sister, Ruth.

McGee is one of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airmen
McGee is one of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airmen

Charles McGee attended the University of Illinois, where he studied engineering, but he did not complete his degree.

On the 17th October 1942, Charles McGee married Frances Nelson, in a ceremony officiated at by his father.  Sadly, he was to get no honeymoon as the day after his wedding, he received his call-up papers and was sworn in as an Aviation Cadet.

Charles and his wife were blessed with three children, two daughters Charlene and Yvonne, and a son, Ronald.

On the 26th October 1942, Charles McGee joined the wold renown Tuskegee Airmen. He earned his pilot’s wings on the 30th June 1943 when he graduated as a member of class 43-F.

By February of the following year, he was flying combat missions from his base in Italy, where he was attached to 332nd Fighter Group in 302nd Fighter Squadron.

He flew various types of fighter aircraft both as an escort to bomber squadrons as well as low-level attacks against Nazi rail yards and airfields. McGee’s P-51 Mustang was nicknamed ‘Kitten,’ his wife’s nickname.

McGee was promoted to Captain and flew 137 combat missions. After the war, he returned to the U.S. and became a pilot instructor. In 1948 he moved on to join the air-refueling unit and also kept up his flying as a fighter pilot.

When the U.S. entered the Korean war, he flew a further 100 missions flying P-51 Mustangs and was promoted to the rank of major.

Lt. Col. McGee (right) served as Commander of the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Vietnam; Lt. Tom Coney (left) flew as his backseater
Lt. Col. McGee (right) served as Commander of the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Vietnam; Lt. Tom Coney (left) flew as his backseater

McGee entered the Vietnam War with the rank of lieutenant colonel and flew a photo-reconnaissance aircraft on 172 combat missions.

In his 30 years of active flying service, Charles McGee flew a total of 409 combat missions. This is one of the highest numbers of combat missions flown by any pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

Charles McGee was promoted to Colonel and retired on 31st January 1973 with a total of 6,308 flying hours under his belt.

Major McGee receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross in Korea in 1951
Major McGee receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross in Korea in 1951

Charles McGee continued to live a full and active life after his retirement, and in 1978 he finally completed his degree, thirty years after he first started.

He has always been an exemplary ambassador for the Tuskegee Airmen and acted as a consultant on the 2012 film ‘Red Tails,’ directed by George Lucas.

President George W. Bush presented Charles McGee with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, and he was honored with being enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011.

In December, to celebrate his 100th birthday, he piloted a Cirris Vision Jet to the Dover Air Base, where he was feted by the base commander and the men stationed there.

 

They were honored to meet one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen that did so much to breakdown the stereotypes and destroy the barriers that stopped African-American pilots from achieving.

This year he was honored to undertake the coin toss at Super Bowl LIV, with three other WWII vets.

To top all of this, he was honored to be promoted by President Donald Trump to the rank of brigadier general at a ceremony held in the Oval Office on the 4th February 2020.

That evening, as Charles McGee was a guest at the State of the Union address, President Trump mentioned him by name and said that the nation saluted him.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein summed it up perfectly when he said, “Charles McGee is a genuine American hero whose courage in combat helped save a nation, and whose legacy is felt to this day across the entire U.S. Air Force.

It was an honor to witness his promotion and to thank him yet again for paving the way for today’s Air Force. The Tuskegee Airmen continue to inspire generations of Americans.”

Through all of this, Charles McGee has remained the same humble man, saying, “I’d like to pass on what I call my four ‘P’s’ — perceive, prepare, perform, persevere — dream your dreams but get the good education to accomplish the desires and needs of the country. Always seek excellence and always do your best in things that you do. Finally, don’t let the negative circumstances be an excuse for not achieving.

 

 

The Last Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot Ace Paul Farnes, Dies Aged 101

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P. Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM.

Chief of the Air Staff Warrant Officer Crossley (centre) and retired Wing Command during the Battle Of Britain Paul Farnes. GETTY
Chief of the Air Staff Warrant Officer Crossley (centre) and retired Wing Command during the Battle Of Britain Paul Farnes. GETTY

The Battle of Britain, often described as a turning point in the War. Paul Farnes was born in June 1918 in Hampshire, England WWI was still to be won.

Twenty years later he was in training with the RAFVR (Voluntary Reserve) and in September 1939 joined RAF 501 Squadron flying a Hawker Hurricane. He left the RAF a Wing Commander in 1958.

At the outbreak of war Farnes was due to be sent to Norway with his squadron but when the Germans over-ran Belgium and invaded France in May 1940 the 501’s sixteen Hurricanes were diverted to Bétheniville near Rheims.

Two days later, on May 12th Farnes opened his account downing a Heinkel 111 bomber and sharing the honours in the destruction of two other aircraft.

An Intelligence Officer (wearing helmet, centre) listens to the reports of fighter pilots of No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, after a sortie during the Battle of Britain, at RAF Hawkinge, near Folkstone, Kent, 15th August 1940. The pilots are (left to right): Stefan Witorzenc, Hugh Adams, John Gibson, Paul Farnes (1918 – 2020), Antoni Gowacki, Bob Dafforn, Kenneth Lee and George Stoney. Sgt Antoni Głowacki is also notable for shooting down five German aircraft on 24th August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, becoming one of only four pilots who gained “ace-in-a-day” status during that battle. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
An Intelligence Officer (wearing helmet, centre) listens to the reports of fighter pilots of No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, after a sortie during the Battle of Britain, at RAF Hawkinge, near Folkstone, Kent, 15th August 1940. The pilots are (left to right): Stefan Witorzenc, Hugh Adams, John Gibson, Paul Farnes (1918 – 2020), Antoni Gowacki, Bob Dafforn, Kenneth Lee and George Stoney. Sgt Antoni Głowacki is also notable for shooting down five German aircraft on 24th August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, becoming one of only four pilots who gained “ace-in-a-day” status during that battle. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

As the German Army advanced and the Allied Forces were beaten back 501 Squadron scrambled for home.

Farnes and two comrades managed to get aboard a boat in St Malo bound for the Channel Islands where they were reunited with pilots who had escaped with their Hurricanes. They made their way back to Croydon Airfield where the 501 regrouped.

The Battle of Britain began soon after and in mid-July Farnes found himself back in action with 501 Squadron out of Gravesend in Kent.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall with Battle of Britain veterans (L-R) Wing Commander Tim Elkington, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum, Wing Commander Tom Neil and Wing Commander Paul Farnes during a reception following a service marking the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey on September 17, 2017 in London, England. GETTY.
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall with Battle of Britain veterans (L-R) Wing Commander Tim Elkington, Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum, Wing Commander Tom Neil and Wing Commander Paul Farnes during a reception following a service marking the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey on September 17, 2017 in London, England. GETTY.

On August 12th, 1940 his first confirmed kill was a Junkers 87 Stuka dive bomber on the South Kent coast.

Three days later he shot down another two Stukas, a Dornier bomber three days after that and later a Messerschmidt Bf 109.

Through September the battle intensified and Farnes, with his squadron, faced the enemy regularly. On September 30th a problem developed with the Hurricane’s canopy, so he was forced to return to base.

Left to right: Fighter pilots Stefan Witorzenc, George Stoney, Antoni Głowacki and sitting Bob Dafforn, Paul Farnes (1918 – 2020), Kenneth “Hawkeye” Lee, John Gibson and Hugh Adams of No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force rest between sorties and listen to an account given by Gibson who has just bailed out of his aircraft, having been shot down by an enemy aircraft on 15th August 1940 at RAF Hawkinge, near Folkstone, Kent, England. Sgt Antoni Głowacki is also notable for shooting down five German aircraft on 24th August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, becoming one of only four pilots who gained “ace-in-a-day” status during that battle. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Left to right: Fighter pilots Stefan Witorzenc, George Stoney, Antoni Głowacki and sitting Bob Dafforn, Paul Farnes (1918 – 2020), Kenneth “Hawkeye” Lee, John Gibson and Hugh Adams of No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force rest between sorties and listen to an account given by Gibson who has just bailed out of his aircraft, having been shot down by an enemy aircraft on 15th August 1940 at RAF Hawkinge, near Folkstone, Kent, England. Sgt Antoni Głowacki is also notable for shooting down five German aircraft on 24th August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, becoming one of only four pilots who gained “ace-in-a-day” status during that battle. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Flying near Gatwick, Sussex, the future site of London’s second International Airport, he encountered anti-aircraft fire being directed at a Junkers 88 bomber.

Farnes went on the attack and the enemy aircraft fell to earth close to the airfield. When he landed Farnes went to meet the surviving German pilot who was disinclined to shake hands.

501 Squadron stayed on the front line for a long time, longer than most, but were estimated to have destroyed more than 150 enemy aircraft at the Battle of Britain.

Farnes’ tally was six confirmed and as a result he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal and commissioned. His commanding officer wrote, ‘He has shown skill, calmness and reliability in combat.’

Following the Battle, he was deployed to Cheshire to pass on his knowledge and experience and train fighter pilots.

He was later sent to train pilots in Aden and then in February 1942 he joined 229 Squadron as a Flight Commander.

 

In April he was involved in very intense fighting and the squadron’s commanding officer was wounded which meant that Farnes had to step up and take command.

With typical modesty he later said of the promotion that, ‘As there appeared to be no one else available, I was made OC 229 Squadron.’

In July he was posted to Iraq and was promoted to Squadron Leader in 1944 after which he returned to the UK to command of 124 Squadron.

He remained with the RAF until 1958, training fighter pilots and attaining the rank of Wing Commander.

Since the end of the War and his retirement Farnes became an active supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and could be seen at the annual reunions at Capel-le-Ferne until 2019.

 

He was the only Battle veteran still well enough to attend the event at the time.

Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM died at his home in West Sussex, England on January 28th, 2020, the last remaining Ace fighter pilot from the Battle of Britain. He leaves behind a son and a daughter.

US Man Exposed as Nazi Commander Dies at Age 100

Two men, both survivors of the Battle of Britain remain, Flight Lieutenant William Clark and Flying Officer John Hemmingway.

 

 

 

 

Navajo Nation Mourns the Loss of Longest-Living Arizona Veteran Dies Aged 105

H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P.  Sophie Yazzie.

 The longest-living veteran in the state of Arizona, Sophie Yazzie of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.
The longest-living veteran in the state of Arizona, Sophie Yazzie of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.

Saturday 25th January 2020 marked the passing of World War II veteran Sophie Yazzie. Sophie, a member of the Navajo Nation, was 105 when she died peacefully surrounded by her family in Tucson, Arizona.

News of her death was broken by The Navajo Nation.

The President of The Navajo nation, Jonathan Nez, released a statement offering prayers and thoughts in support of her family and praising Yazzie as a family matriarch and Navajo warrior who served her country.

Doug Ducey

@dougducey

Saddened to learn of the passing of Sophie Yazzie, a World War II Veteran and member of the Navajo Nation. At the age of 105, Sophie was one of the longest living female WWII veterans. Arizona is forever grateful for her service. Our prayers are with her loved ones.

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Sophie was born in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, in 1914, and she joined the US. Army Air Corps in 1943 at age 28. She trained as a nurse and a cook and rose to the rank of Technician Fourth Grade (Sergeant) on the 734th WAC.

She served her country until she was honorably discharged after the war.

At the conclusion of her military service, Yazzie returned to her home and to Wingate Boarding School, from where she graduated in 1934, and worked as a cook until she retired at age 70.

A youthful Sophie Yazzie in uniform during her term of service in the Women’s Army Corps in World War II. Sophie passed at the age of 105 on Jan. 25, 2020.
A youthful Sophie Yazzie in uniform during her term of service in the Women’s Army Corps in World War II. Sophie passed at the age of 105 on Jan. 25, 2020.

Yazzie was married in 1945, and her late husband was Jordan B. Yazzie. At the time of her death, Yazzie left behind four children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

In the statement from the Navajo Nation, Sophie Yazzie was described as “a loving and compassionate mother, grandmother, and veteran who served her people throughout her life in several different capacities.”

Funeral services were held on January 30 at St. Michaels Mission in St. Michaels, Arizona, and Yazzie was laid to rest in the Ft. Defiance Veterans Cemetery, according to Tucson’s Women Warriors Facebook page.

Sophie Yazzie was a decorated veteran of the Women’s Army Corps, formerly called the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She enlisted in 1943 and rose to the rank of Technician Fourth Grade (Sergeant) in the 734th WAC
Sophie Yazzie was a decorated veteran of the Women’s Army Corps, formerly called the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She enlisted in 1943 and rose to the rank of Technician Fourth Grade (Sergeant) in the 734th WAC

Her body was escorted from Gallup by Riders for Warriors, and the ceremony was attended by the American Legion Post 84 as Honor Guard. Arizona Army National Guard provided 15 soldiers to serve as pallbearers and stand at attention.

Tributes

Tributes to this brave lady poured in from many quarters.

Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, expressed his condolences on Saturday via Twitter saying “Saddened to learn of the passing of Sophie Yazzie, a World War II Veteran and member of the Navajo Nation.

At the age of 105, Sophie was one of the longest living female WWII veterans.”

The Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, Wanda Wright, passed on her condolences through a post on Facebook, saying, “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Sophie Yazzie.

Sophie, a WWII veteran died today at the age of 105 surrounded by her family. A Navajo veteran, she was born and raised in Canyon de Chelly and served in the Women’s Army Air Corps.”

On a release from the Navajo Nation Council, Speaker Seth Damon stated, “On behalf of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, I wish to express the solemn observance of the passing of Miss Sophie Yazzie.

It is with hearts full of deep regard for her service to our Nation that we recognize the true blessing her soul was to our People.

May her legacy continue to be a guiding light of service, dedication, and the ultimate fulfilment of a life truly well-lived.”

We can only join Governor Ducey in saying, “Arizona is forever grateful for her service. Our prayers are with her loved ones. #RIP”