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Honoring Our Heroes

 

October 1, 2021 | View PDF

Lt. Woodward Durham Lamar: Age 98

Lt. Woodward Durham Lamar served as a pilot in the U.S. Navy for four years of active duty during WWII and served seven years in the Navy Reserve.

Lt. Lamar was born October 31, 1922 in Montgomery, AL, to his parents, Robert Jones Lamar and Mary Yougene Lamar. Lt. Lamar’s four brothers also served during WWII, and one brother was killed in combat when he was flying a B-25. Lt. Lamar was reared in Montgomery and graduated from Lanier High School in 1940. He worked for one year at the AA Seed Company, a fertilizer company, and as a shoe salesman in Montgomery followed by working at a boys’ camp in Fountain, North Carolina. Next, he attended the University of AL for one year.

While working at a defense plant in Detroit, MI, Lt. Lamar joined the U. S. Navy in August 1942 and became a Navy pilot. His flight prep school was in Columbia, S.C., soloed at Rocky Mt., N.C., completed preflight in Athens, GA, and graduated from flight school at the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, FL, receiving his pilot’s wings. One of his instructors at Bronson Field, a Naval Auxilliary Air Station near Pensacola, was Ted Williams, a Marine Corps fighter-pilot who was a famous professional baseball player. He began flying the Stearman PT-17, a two-seater, single engine aircraft for the instructor and the student-pilot. He next flew the SNJ, a single engine advanced trainer aircraft. He then completed training at the torpedo-bomber school and flew the TBF Avenger aircraft. He completed operational training in Miami, FL, followed by training to be catapulted and to land on Naval aircraft carriers in Lake Michigan at the Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview, IL. After completion of all training to fly with instruments during the day and the night, Lt. Lamar was assigned to Torpedo Squadron Seven at Seaside, Oregon, where training was done in preparation for an invasion of Japan. Lt. Lamar recalls that his pilot training was thorough.

The Japanese surrendered August 15, 1945, and Lt. Lamar never got to fly in combat before WWII ended in the Pacific Theater. He was then sent to Hawaii where he flew the cargo plane, C-47, delivering supplies throughout the Hawaiian Islands for nine months. He was discharged from active military service in 1946 at San Francisco, CA, riding a train back to his hometown of Montgomery, AL, followed by serving in the Naval Reserve.

Using the G.I. Bill, Lt. Lamar graduated from the University of AL with a B.S. and a B.A. Degee in Pre-Med in 1948, and he graduated from the University of AL School of Dentistry in the University of AL in Birmingham, AL in 1952. Dr. Lamar practiced dentistry for 40 years in Montgomery, AL. He ended his service in the Navy Reserve when he finished dental school.

Dr. Lamar and his wife, May Rush, were married 48 years before she passed away, and they had four children, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. After receiving a degree in early childhood education, May started the kindergarten programs at the Montgomery Y.M.C.A.’s. One son, Woodward Lamar, served as a pilot in the AL National Guard flying the F4 Phantom and the F-16 Viper reaching the rank of Colonel. Another son, Claude Lamar,

graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy serving five years on active duty with the Navy followed by practicing as a pediatrician for 25 years. A daughter, Melissa Lamar, has worked as a social worker in Oregon and Washington. A daughter, May, has been a reporter and is a free-lance writer in Montgomery. Dr. Lamar has served as a deacon of First Baptist Church of Montgomery and as President of the AL Dental Association. He and his wife enjoyed playing golf and often won trophies in mixed doubles in golf tournaments. They even played golf in other countries including Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand. They also fished together often on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico catching pompano. He caught a 550 pound marlin one time that took almost three hours to reel in the huge fish.

Lt. Lamar’s conclusions about his military service are, “We got attacked, and we had to retaliate. I did not feel all that patriotic. It was just something that we had to do. That was all there was to it. I am proud of my service.”

Lt Col David L. McFarland: Age 80

David L. McFarland served 27 years in the United States Air Force. His Air Force Specialty Code was Navigator-Bombardier.

David L. McFarland was born to Evan McFarland and Sarah McFarland in Louisville, KY in May 1941. His father was a landscape gardener at the time with a thriving business based out of Crestwood, a small village, in rural Oldham County near Louisville. After a contentious divorce, his father was granted custody of David at age five, an older sister and a brother. Evan McFarland then moved his small family to Scott County, Ky. Numerous McFarland families who trace their history back to Scotland settled in the county in the l700s.

McFarland began his schooling at Newtown School, and he attended several elementary schools until moving to Fayette County where he completed junior high and then graduated sixth out of a class of over 300 at Lafayette Senior High School in 1958. He then enrolled in the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington and worked to earn money for each semester’s tuition and books which was then about $200. His father provided a home and an old car to help him. He graduated from UK in May 1962, and since the school was a land grant school, he enrolled in the mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps. Luck led him into the Air Force ROTC program and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with a Bachelor of Arts in Aerospace Science. He entered active service on July 27, 1962 to train as a navigator (Air Force Service Code 1525Z) at James Connally AFB, Waco, TX. With a high standing in the class, he was able to select his assignment to become a navigator/bombardier at Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA. Finishing the school as second in the class of 20, he requested an assignment to Tactical Air Command. He got his wish and was assigned to Shaw AFB, SC near Sumter, SC. The assignment was to RB-66 aircraft. The aircraft was never used as a bomber, but it served in weather, signals intelligence and photo reconnaissance roles. Although McFarland, known as “Spanky,” flew in each of the roles, he settled into his flying life in the photo reconnaissance version, the RB-66B.

Photographic reconnaissance was perfect for him because of his love of maps. His father was sent to Beaumont, TX to relandscape the Texas home of Pansy Yount, a mountain girl who carried water to the oil drillers. She married Frank Yount, who brought in a free-flowing oil well on the Spindletop salt dome. Yount would become one of the richest oilmen in USA and when he died, his wife became the richest woman in the country. On the way to Texas, McFarland, collected highway maps at every gas station. He found that he could easily relate maps to the places they covered. This skill would be ideal for a photo recce navigator. Years later in the air, he developed an ability to match topographical maps to the earth’s surface. As a 1st lieutenant, he was offered a job as mission planner for the secret U-2 and SR-71 then flying over Russia. The job was normally done by a lieutenant colonel, but he turned it down because he wanted to fly.

After six weeks at Maxwell’s Squadron Officer School, he returned to James Connally AFB to become Flight Check Navigator for the RF-4C Phantom, a new twin engine recce aircraft the USAF developed just in time for the ramping up of the war in SEA. On his first RF-4 mission in the USA, he flew with David “Dutch” Holland who been lured by false radio signals into East Germany flying an RB-66B along with two crew members. They were traded for a communist spy after two weeks. The MiG 19 Soviet Pilot, V.G. Zinoviev visited Holland in hospital and gave him a pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

In April 1964, four RB-66B aircraft and five three-man crews (pilot, navigator and infrared set operator) were sent to Tan Son Nhut AB, on the western edge of Saigon. McFarland’s first operational war mission was in RB-66B, number 418, as was his third over jungle roads to detect heat from North Vietnamese cooking fires and truck engines used along the Ho Chi Minh trail in central Laos. Three days later, he flew the aircraft again on his birthday. Out of over 100 missions over the Vietnams, Laos, and Cambodia, he flew RB-66B number 418 twenty-three times at low level, both day and night during a three-month TDY and a tour in late 1965 followed by six weeks and four at Takhli AB, Thailand in the RB-66C. The missions were to gather electronic intel on enemy Surface-to-Air Missiles in the Hanoi area.

In July of 1966, the war-tested navigator got the news that he was to be in the first class of Weapons Systems Officers (WSO) to fly the RF-4C and train for assignment to Bergstrom AFB, Austin, TX. Because of his war experience, he immediately became a standardization/evaluation officer at the wing level. McFarland established all the low-level training routes covering Texas used both day and night by pilot and WSO students headed to SEA for combat. In late 1969, many crews were alerted for reassignment to Misawa AB. Japan. When he was not called for this new base, he volunteered to go.

The wing was a fighter-bomber unit with two F-4C squadrons and one RF-4C reconnaissance squadron that came from duty in SEA. McFarland again became a wing standardization/evaluation officer for the reconnaissance WSO’s. The tour at Misawa was short. After just six months, punctuated by a 10 ft snow fall, the squadrons left in February 1970. McFarland returned to train reconnaissance crews at Shaw AFB once again. In 1973, Major McFarland was selected to attend Air Command and Staff College (ASFC) as a student for a year. While there, he wrote a paper about the ongoing war in Oman against Yemeni irregulars attempting to take Dhofar province. Iranian RF crews trained at Bergstrom AFB, TX, and flew Phantoms for the Omanis. In the paper, then Major McFarland predicted that US aircrews would fly from Oman in a future war. They did fly during the war when Iraq attacked Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and again in the war to oust Saddam Hussein.

After ASFC in 1974, Major McFarland returned to Shaw AFB and joined the 9th Air Force Inspector General (IG) team. As an inspector, he inspected Air National Guard and Reserve units that in event of mobilization would be assigned to regular USAF operations. He often flew the RF-4C Phantom “recce” aircraft with Captain Randy Wortmann. McFarland had known him since 1968 when Randy was one of the first four second lieutenants picked to pilot the Phantom. Originally, this would be a two-year assignment, but it stretched to six, and he would become Chief of IG Operations at 9th and a Lieutenant Colonel.

Assigned to ACSC as a seminar leader, Lt Col McFarland recognized that the college had no program to teach history of the Air Force. He proposed to bring distinguished people in the United Kingdom, Argentina, Israel, Pakistan, Germany and France, and even the United States and Russia! Lt Col McFarland retired in 1989, but he continued to organize the gathering as a non-paid advisor to select students chosen to coordinate the week-long event as their required thesis.

The war in Kosovo brought a new chapter in the now retired officer’s life. On April 14, 1999, during the war over the Balkans, he saw photos of a convoy of refugees in Kosovo escaping the rampaging Serbian army. The refugees were driven from their homes by a Kosovar Serb, an auxiliary policeman. His name was Milutin Prascevic. One week later, Pascevic was killed by a young Kosovo Liberation Army soldier near Meja village just a mile from where NATO

F-16 accidently bombed a convoy that appeared to be military vehicles. The F-16 pilots were not allowed to fly below 15,000 flight altitude. After lengthy communications with intelligence operators at NATO ground bases, the NATO pilots were cleared to drop bombs. The Serb vehicles had left the convoy and hid in the woods and barns. Sadly, the convoy was now composed of farmers and families on tractors and horse-drawn wagons. Two bombs struck the convoy and a farmhouse wrongly thought to be a Serb command center. That day, war photographer, Goran Tomasevic, an ethnic Serb, featured a young blond Kosovar boy who was totally traumatized and in tears.

After his retirement in August 1989, McFarland saw the photo on a BBC website, and began a search to find the boy. With the help of the UN mission in Kosovo and Voice of America, he located the boy in the tiny village of Pacaj, Kosovo. McFarland made other connections and headed to Kosovo in September 2001 to finally meet the boy. Flying from New York to Germany on September 9th, he drove to visit a friend, who was now a Czech fighter wing commander at Caslov AB. There on TV, he saw the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. From there, McFarland drove to Slovenia, and then flew to Kosovo. With help from a contact there, he made the trip over a very rough dirt road to Pacaj village. There he fulfilled the mission to meet the boy that he called “The Boy in the Yellow Shirt.” Muharrem “Rrem” Alija was then 16 years old. Rrem’s older sister, Filoreta, was one of 33 people killed in the accidental

bombing. His two younger sisters and three younger brothers, plus his mother and father survived the attack. Their home was hardly more than a shack and all of the children needed clothes and dental care. McFarland helped all to solve these needs and encouraged Rrem to restart school in the 7th grade. All went on to complete high school in Kosovo. Rrem was an outstanding leader in his class. He helped McFarland to survive treatment for pancreatic cancer during 2008/2009. Their friendship continues to this day…Muharrem Alija is now a US citizen and lives in Georgia. He owns a big-rig truck and trailer and is married, with two small girls. His brothers, sisters and mother all have good lives in Germany, Italy and Kosovo … Their story continues!

1st Class Seaman Frederick D. Roberts, Sr.

1st Class Seaman Frederick D. Roberts Sr. served three years in the U. S. Navy during WWII. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Guard at the Commander’s Office at Naval Station Treasure Island, a major Navy departure and receiving point for sailors in the Pacific aboard surface ships and submarines at San Francisco, CA. He served there for one year and four months followed by service in Oahu, Hawaii, where he unloaded wounded military personnel and in the Philippine Islands working in the mess halls until WWII ended.

Roberts was born October 16, 1925 to his parents, Oscar and Mary Roberts in Frisco City, AL. Although he did not graduate from high school, he later received his GED. Roberts was drafted and enlisted in the U.S. Navy completing Basic Training at the Great Lakes Naval Station, IL.

After discharge from military service in 1946 in TN, Roberts worked for Monsanto Industries, an American agrochemical and agricultural bio-technology company, for 28 years and retired in 1985. He and his wife, Geraldine Taylor, were married 64 years, and they had five children, eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Roberts has served as a Deacon at the Shiloh Baptist Church for over 50 years. He has enjoyed farming and making wine. He also enjoys his family and reading the Bible. He counts himself blessed. He mostly enjoyed taking care of his mother and wife during their illnesses. He has been a Master in the Masonic Order of the Eastern Star.

Roberts did not see combat duty during WWII; however he was ready to serve while serving and waiting to be deployed in the Navy at Treasure Island before WWII ended. He states the following about his military service, “It meant a “heap”, a lot, to serve and to go on adventures.” His conclusions about what he would like future generations to remember about him are, “Put God first.

Always respect others. Get a good education. My granddad prayed for better days, and it is here. My children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren are hardworking just as I prayed for them to be.”

Sgt Harold Woodman: Age 90

Sergeant Harold Woodman served two years in the Naval Reserve and three years in the United States Air Force. His Air Force Specialty Code was Correspondent Clerk. His medals, awards and decorations included the National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Occupational Medal Germany. He served veterans for 30 years assisting them through rehabilitative counseling.

Sgt Woodman was born April 9, 1931 in Montgomery, AL, to his parents, “Sandy” Harold Woodman and Margaret Woodman. He was reared in Montgomery and attended schools there graduating from Sidney Lanier High School in May 1950. While he was in high school, he participated in the Naval Reserve. He worked as a tree trimmer with the AL Power Company for six months, and then he joined the U. S. Air Force February 6, 1951. Sgt Woodman served in Frankfort, Germany, in the intelligence service interviewing German prisoners of war coming from Russia dealing with ascertaining the activities in the cities of Russia during the Cold War. He was discharged from military service September 4, 1954. Sgt Woodman used the G.I. Bill and graduated with a B.S. Degree in Marketing in 1957 from the University of Alabama. After graduating, he worked for a brief time with City Florist in Montgomery followed by working as a salesman with General Mills throughout Alabama.

Sgt Woodman returned to the University of AL, and in 1966 he graduated with a M.S. Degree in Rehabilitative Counseling, which prepared him to work as a Rehabilitative Counselor. He worked two years with the State of AL and assisted disabled people who had limitations to get the necessary treatments and training for employment. Then for 28 years, he worked for the Veterans Administration in counseling psychology assisting disabled veterans and children of veterans, looking at the veterans’ limitations and placing them in jobs. He administered a variety of tests to determine their aptitudes and interests and helped them in obtaining financial assistance through the Disabled G. I. Bill. Sgt Woodman recalls that he looked forward to going to work each day as most of the veterans had suffered injuries from combat. He retired from all employment in June 1996.

Sgt Woodman who likes to be called “Woody” and his wife Freda have been married 63 years, and they have four children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Since 1966, both Woody and Freda have been active members of the St. James United Methodist Church of Montgomery. Freda has served in many areas including singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, making prayer shawls for ill or home bound church members or for active duty deployed service men, making baby blankets and also leading a weekly Bible study in their home. Woody has served as a deacon, Superintendent of Education, Sunday School teacher, President of a Sunday School Class and a leader of ushers. Woody has been an avid tennis player for many years playing doubles with the Early Birds at O’Conner Tennis Center, and he has cultivated a vegetable garden also for many years.

Sgt Woodman’s conclusions about what serving in the U. S. Military has meant to him saying, “At that time, we felt like it was an obligation. I fulfilled that obligation. Everybody was expected to go into the service. While serving with an intelligence outfit, I wanted to get to know the German people and their life style.”

 

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