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American Heros

posted Apr 7, 2018, 1:29 PM by David Froiseth

Today our CAP squadron supported the Gator Fly-In, and cadet CMSgt Ned Kiker got to meet a couple very distinguished gentlemen.  To his right is Marine corporal Bob Gasche, one of our local WWII veterans, and one of the last survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima.  Cpl Gasche survived the bloodbath in 1945 as the U.S. Marines stormed the beaches.  He vividly recalls seeing Marines raise an American flag atop Mount Suribachi.  There were more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead.  Bob also saw combat during the Korean War.  To Bob’s right is Colonel Joseph Kittinger, USAF retired.  In 1960, then captain Kittinger set a world record for the highest skydive from a height greater than 102,800-feet (over 19-miles)!  He fell for 4 minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 614 miles per hour.  Col Kittinger was awarded the Harmon Trophy by President Eisenhower, and his record stood for 52-years.  He was also the first man to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a gas balloon.  He served three combat tours of duty during the Vietnam War as a fighter pilot, flying a total of 483 combat missions.  He achieved an aerial kill of a North Vietnamese MiG-21 jet fighter and was later shot down himself, spending 11 months as a prisoner of war in a North Vietnamese prison (the “Hanoi Hilton”).  Col Kittinger has over 16,000 flying hours.  For cadet Kiker it was truly an honor to meet these great Americans!