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Another Legend Passes..... :: Archived
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Power User

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Joined: Jan 05, 2005
Posts: 5840
Location: Group W bench
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 12:53 pm
Post subject: Another Legend Passes.....

20-year Navy pilot Cook Cleland, WWII ace and SBD Dauntless pilot who also served in Korea, and recipient of the Navy Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Navy Commendation and a Presidential unit citation, passed away just a week ago Friday (July 13 2007).


Excellent reading of his experiences here, particularly his WWII encounters:


In addition to his highly distinguished military duty, Cook Cleland's name is recognizable to fans and afficianados of air racing, due to his dominance of the 1947 and 1949 postwar Thompson Trophy races held in Cleveland OH after purchasing and entering up to 3 Goodyear F2G Corsairs, which mark a unique era in the history of the National Air Races. Cook is the only other man besides the famed Roscoe Turner to have won the Thompson Trophy more than once, having won it twice.

Cook was incucted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000, and the story of his racing career is a fascinating read for aviation and air racing buffs. FYI, the "friendly Admiral" in the story below is none other than Admiral Halsey himself, who arranged for 3 rare F2G Corsairs to be declared surplus, apparently for this effort (only 18 Goodyear F2G's were built, I believe).


His last win was in Race #94 which was parked out in the grass at Cleveland airport after the final race. With no immediate future due to the cancellation of the races, this historic aircraft was slowly stripped, and almost unbelievably to us today, burned as part of an airport fire drill practice. Eventually it was buried on the grounds of Cleveland airport and it's bones remain there to this day.


Cook then re-upped for the Korean conflict and flew Corsairs as squadron leader (Cmdr.) of VF653 and again served with distinction, including being shot down off the coast and being rescued. VF653 as a whole suffered losses due to their assigned role (Close Air Support) - losing 6 pilots during their initial tour.


I'm sure that right now, Cook is RIPPING huge holes in the sky and tearing loud pylon turns around the clouds in good ol' #94...and doing a little rat-racing with some fellow pilots who he's waited a very long time to see again. Tailwinds & clear skies, Cook.

"Once your reputation is ruined, you can live quite freely."
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Joined: Jan 21, 2005
Posts: 6996
Location: Central Illinois, USA
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:33 pm
Post subject: Re: Another Legend Passes.....

Amen and thanks for the H.U Stoopy...
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Power User

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Joined: Mar 13, 2005
Posts: 1528
Location: Los Angeles
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 2:05 am
Post subject: Re: Another Legend Passes.....


In the Obits in the LA Times about 2 - 3 weeks ago there was another one that passed away. Was gonna post it and forgot and know can't even remember his name but did see him on one of the "Dog Fight" eps. on History CH.

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Joined: Mar 13, 2005
Posts: 1528
Location: Los Angeles
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 2:12 am
Post subject: Re: Another Legend Passes.....

Colonel Robin Olds passed away june 14.

DogFights Season 1 "AIR AMBUSH"
Legendary fighter pilot, Colonel Robin Olds, sets an intricate trap for the North Vietnamese MiG-21's. His squadron, the Wolfpack, disguises its lethal F-4 Phantoms as vulnerable bombers. The MIGs scream in to challenge the Americans. The result is the most elaborate air sting of the war...CODE NAME...Operation Bolo.

Was an awesome episode.

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Power User

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Joined: Mar 13, 2005
Posts: 1528
Location: Los Angeles
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 3:54 am
Post subject: Re: Another Legend Passes.....

Wow, great story.

Thanks for posting Stoopy.

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Joined: Jan 05, 2005
Posts: 6256
Location: Cyberspace
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:26 pm
Post subject: Re: Another Legend Passes.....

I'd heard about Old's passing, but not about Cleland's...thanks for the head's up...

"All facts go to clearly prove that Shades is a thrice-cursed traitor & mentally deranged person steeped in inveterate enmity toward mankind"
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