[Daniel R. Rehm, Charles M. Mallory, Paul J. Fontana, Marion E. Carl, Robert C. Coats, Donald E. Runyon, and George Blair oral history interviews]
This recording contains one-on-one interviews with Naval Aviators Daniel R. Rehm, Charles M. Mallory, Paul J. Fontana, Marion E. Carl, Robert C. Coats, Donald E. Runyon, and George Blair. Rehm, Mallory, Carl, Coats, and Runyon briefly describe their military careers and recall notable combat missions from their service during World War II. Blair shares a few details about an aerial victory he scored with his belly tank and about his rescue after being shot down in Truk Lagoon. Fontana declines to discuss any missions but notes that he is looking forward to renewing acquaintances at the event.
The interviews are conducted by Eugene A. Valencia during an unspecified event, likely a Naval Aviators’ reunion.
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Charles M. Mallory was born on September 30, 1920 in South Charleston, West Virginia. He joined the United States Navy in 1942 and was designated a Naval Aviator the following year. Mallory served in the Pacific Theater with Fighting Squadron 36 (VF-36), later redesignated Fighting Squadron 18 (VF-18), aboard the USS Intrepid (CV-11). He remained in the Naval Reserves after World War II and resigned his commission in 1961 at the rank of lieutenant commander. Mallory passed away in 2013.
Paul J. Fontana was born on November 27, 1911 in Lucca, Italy. He joined the United States Marine Corps and earned his commission in 1936. He later entered flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1940. After initially serving with Marine Fighting Squadron 111 (VMF-111), Fontana took command of Marine Fighting Squadron 112 (VMF-112), flying missions in Guadalcanal and the South Pacific. Fontana remained in the military after World War II and commanded aviation units in the Korean War and Vietnam War. He retired in 1973 as a major general and passed away in 1997.
Marion E. Carl was born on November 1, 1915 in Hubbard, Oregon. Graduating from Oregon State University in 1938 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, he served briefly with the United States Army Corps of Engineers before resigning his commission to join the United States Marine Corps. In 1942, Carl was one of the few pilots of Marine Fighting Squadron 221 (VMF-221) to survive the Battle of Midway. Afterwards, he was deployed with Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF-223) to Guadalcanal, where he became the first Marine fighter ace. Carl remained in the military after World War II, serving as a Navy test pilot for various jet aircraft and commanding the 2nd Marine Air Wing during the Vietnam War. Carl retired as a major general in 1973. In 1998, he was killed in his home in Oregon while defending his wife from a robber.
Robert C. Coats was born on January 2, 1918 in Louisiana. He entered the United States Navy flight training program in 1940 and was commissioned as a Naval Aviator the following year. Coats served two combat tours in the Pacific Theater, one with Fighting Squadron 18 (VF-18) aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and one with Fighting Squadron 17 (VF-17) aboard the USS Hornet (CV-12). He remained in the military after World War II, working in the research and development field. Coats retired as a captain in 1971 and passed away in 2011.
Donald E. Runyon was born on June 26, 1913 in Fairmount, Illinois. He joined the United States Navy in 1934 and was designated a Naval Aviation Pilot (non-commissioned) shortly afterward. After a brief assignment with Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2), Runyon joined Fighting Squadron 6 (VF-6) aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6), flying missions in Guadalcanal and the South Pacific. In 1943, he joined Fighting Squadron 18 (VF-18) aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) for his second combat tour. Runyon remained in the military after World War II and served with a number squadrons, including Fighting Squadron 82 (VF-82), Fighting Squadron 171 (VF-171), and Fighting Squadron 22 (VF-22). He retired as a commander in 1963 and passed away in 1984.
George Blair was a United States Navy pilot who flew with Fighting Squadron 9 (VF-9) during World War II.
Biographical information courtesy of: Boyce, Ward J., ed., American fighter aces album. Mesa, Ariz: American Fighter Aces Association, 1996.