We just lost another of the Greatest Generation. The Texas Flying Legends Museum was honored to get to know WWII P-47 pilot Capt. Herb Stachler, U.S. Army Air Corps; our team had many memorable experiences with him over the past two years. At Doolittle Raiders Reunion we were fortunate to be able to take Herb up in our P-51 flown by Casey Odegaard. Herb’s brother Walt, a WWII gunner, shot down on his second mission, was my gunner on on the same flight in the B-25 Betty’s Dream. We put together an incredible formation flight and Moose Peterson, Adam White and Robert Seale were along to capture it all on film. Again at Oshkosh 2013 Herb was featured by TFLM at the Warbirds in Review showcase. Herb was an amazingly sharp man, had a great wit, and I will forever treasure hearing his first hand accounts of what he and the other young men did for our country over the skies of Europe.
In 1941, Herb Stachler decided to enlist in the Army – well before the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial forces. Pearl Harbor froze all active duty military in place, so in 1942 Herb applied for pilot training. However, his height was just under the 5 feet 4 inches required to be accepted into the program. So when he took the physical, he stretched himself and stood as tall as he could – and passed.
Herb began training to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt and was assigned to the 366th Fighter Group. When Herb was assigned his own P-47, he decided to name it Lil’ Herbie as a tribute to a little boy and his many adventures. He flew 102 combat missions and participated in every major campaign on the Western Front, including D-Day, the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944.
I could go on forever talking about this great American, but will just post a few pictures taken of the brothers by Robert Seale. Herb is in the back of the Mustang, and Walt is looking at him from the B25 gunner position. We at TFLM feel so honored to have met Herb and Walt.
Wishing you tailwinds and blue skies, Herb.