Mr. Polan Visits Major Bong Historical Center

Mr. Polan is a 90-year-old gentleman from Delray Beach, FL with an incredible history. Mr. Polan served in World War II in the 9th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group, a well-accredited and valorous division of the Pacific Theater. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Polan found himself drifting towards the defense industry. He eventually enlisted in the US Army in late 1942 and served until October of 1945.

Mr. Polan enlisted in hopes of becoming a pilot. At the time, two years of college was needed to fulfill planned aviation cadet requirements and Mr. Polan didn’t meet that criteria. Instead, he became an Aircraft Armorer, 911, whose responsibilities were to perform first and second echelon maintenance on all armament within the unit and to load bombs and ammunition in all aircraft. Mr. Polan was an Armorer, 911 to that of Major Richard Bong, United States top-scoring air ace. His service took him places from Buckley Field, Colorado for Armorers training to Okinawa, Philippines as a Sargent of the US Army Air Force. His dedication and courage are mentioned on a website dedicated to the Flying Knights of WWII where Sgt. Polan manned a .30 caliber machine gun on an LST being dive bombed by Japanese enemy aircraft.

Mr. Polan’s Wish of a Lifetime was to visit the museum that was built in Major Richard Bongs name and to pay homage to those who served in WWII. Mr. Polan also wanted to once again see the Lockheed P-38 (Maj. Bong’s aircraft) and to witness his Squadron’s history.

While in Superior at the Historical Center, Sgt. Polan spoke with a group of young students about his service, he was interviewed by the Superior Telegram and the Executive Director of the Historical Center, toured the museum, and participated in the Flag of Honor Ceremony in which Sgt. Polan presented the flag in remembrance of all the 5th Air Force veterans who have passed on.

When asked what the trip meant to him, Mr. Polan replied, “It means more than anyone could understand,” and that it “brought back my youth.”

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July 24, 2013