Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hoosier Daddy

So, let me tell you about a kid from Miami, Indiana who enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a private in 1909, eventually took a commission as a lieutenant in the Indiana National Guard, spent time in the cavalry, was a captain leading an infantry company at Ch√Ęteau-Thierry and commanded an infantry battalion in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. After the Great War, at the ripe old age of 27, he then transferred to US Army Air Corps and earned his wings as both a balloon pilot and an airship pilot.

Between the wars he won a few international balloon races; was the test pilot for the world's only successful metal-skinned dirigible; learned how to fly fixed-wing craft; and participated in an unsuccessful attempt at the world record for balloon altitude and bailed out after the balloon's envelope ruptured at altitude, riding the plummeting pressurized gondola down until it was safe to parachute.

During WWII he was promoted to Major General in '43 and took command of 8th Fighter Command before taking over the 2nd Bomb Division of the Mighty Eighth. He flew a couple dozen combat missions over occupied Europe and didn't retire until 1953, by which time the Hoosier country boy who'd been a private in the Marines when airplanes were novelties was now a lieutenant general who had commanded fleets of jets.

Meet Lieutenant General William Kepner:

So cool that his buddies probably stored their beer in his pockets.

13 comments:

Keads said...

Uh, wow. Bet there was a distinct clanking sound when he walked. Thanks for the post Tam!

Matt said...

He was definitely qualified as an Old School Man.

Sken said...

The Dos Equis guy just paled and left the room muttering.

He's slamming Everclear shots in his conservatory as I write this.

I like to think that we still make people like Lt. General Kepner, it's just that we're not ready to hear about the secret war in the Gamma Quadrant.

Erich505 said...

Indiana history is full of people like that. :)

Rob K said...

Indiana probably has produced more important and interesting people than the rest of the planet combined! :) Makes me proud to be a Hoosier.

Old NFO said...

Yep, Old Breed!!! :-) Thanks for that story!!!

Lee Scuppers said...

Keads beat me to it, I was gonna ask how he fit them out the door of that plummeting gondola.

Bram said...

Damn. Well done sir.

Firehand said...

Damn.
Just damn.

The Raving Prophet said...

Nothing to do with the body of the post, but the title:

I've always wanted to open a paternity testing clinic chain in Indiana. I'd call it Hoosier Daddy.

/Tip your waitress
//Try the steak

RabidAlien said...

Dang. Solid titanium giblets, indeed! Had to have utilized a second parachute from that plummeting balloon just for his Boys. Thanks for the history lesson, Tam!

mikee said...

The amazing thing is, there are equals to this man walking around doing amazing things in far-flung places like Afghanistan right now.

A few times in my life I've met men and women who were halfway through lives like this.

They have left an impression on me.
Such meetings are treasured and used as exemplars for my own pitiful existence.

OldAFSarge said...

STUD. One word. All caps. Don't ask.