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Pat Weiland – Above and Beyond

Short Flights


Bruce Porter with Drill Instructor.

As Memorial Day approaches, I find it interesting how enjoyable it is to hear or read about historical stories about flying, especially if it occurred in our local skies? My late friend Bruce Porter, was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Mojave during World War II flying Corsairs and Hellcats. He wrote the book called Ace! A Marine Night-Fighter Pilot in WWII.

When he found out how much I liked aviation history, he contacted his fellow Marine Corps pilot friend, Charles (Pat) Weiland in Beaufort, South Carolina and asked him to send me a copy of the book that he wrote called, Above and Beyond.

In the book Pat tells about receiving those cherished Gold Wings and flying the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. He signed the book "From one ol' aviation enthusiast to another!"

Part III of the book is entitled, "The Desert" and tells about the scene at Marine Corps Air Station Mojave in 1944 when squadrons VMF-451 and VMF 452 were organized. Pat is part of the history of the very beginnings of our Mojave Airport. It was always enjoyable to tell him what was happening at the airport and he told me stories of yesterday. Check out YouTube for a video about VMF-451 beginning at Mojave.

In the book, Pat told how Corsair pilots were briefed by Joe Foss on the best way to shoot down a Japanese Zero: "You fly toward the target until a midair seems inevitable, then fire all six guns and fly through the wreckage."

By the way, Joseph Jacob "Joe" Foss was a United States Marine Corps Major and the highest scoring Marine Corps fighter ace in World War II, and a Medal of Honor recipient, recognizing his role in the air combat during the Guadalcanal Campaign.

He retired from the Corps as a Brigadier General. Foss passed away in 2003 in Scottsdale, Ariz. It was written after his passing – "Joe Foss wasn't just a member of the 'greatest generation,' he was one of its greatest heroes."

In one of the emails that Pat sent to me, he said, "The books that I have written have prolonged the enjoyment of my life immensely."

He continued, "It has been absolutely incredible the way some situations have come to light, as a result. It has turned my life around, yes indeed, that book has really lit up my life!"

Pat advised a young pilot to write about his memories of flying in the military. He said, "If you don't do it, then the events, of which you are now so familiar, will be lost forever. These recordings will have their ramifications when considering family and friends. And who knows, a few descendents down the line might even remember you! (Lord, forbid.) Just don't lose it. Record it."

I believe that is great advice for everyone. Even if it doesn't involve flying, write down your family memories to be passed on to your children and grandchildren. Reading the words written by people who loved you keeps them alive forever.

Marine Fighting Squadron 451 (VMF-451) was activated on 15 February 1944 at MCAS Mojave, California. The "Blue Devils" were one of 32 squadrons that trained at the base, and were collectively known as the "Mojave Marines." Equipped with the Chance-Vought F4U-1D Corsair, they spent nearly one year training for carrier-based operations under the command of Major Henry A. Ellis Jr., who remained the Commanding Officer for 17 months.

Bruce Porter with Drill Instructor

The squadron moved on board USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) on 24 January 1945, along with VF-84 and VMF-221. This was the first fast-carrier deployment with three Corsair squadrons.

The "Warlords" of VMFA-451 (flying F-18 Hornets) were deactivated on 31st January 1997 as part of the Armed Forces reduction policy.

I remember receiving the sad news from Pat Weiland's son in an email in 2004, after a lengthy illness Pat had died peacefully with his son and wife holding his hand. One more of our "Greatest Generation" was gone; he was 86. I am so glad he took the time to write about his experiences, so we can read them over and over. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to call him "friend."

See you on our next flight!


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