Gov. Ted Kulongoski congratulates Staryl Austin Jr.
on Wednesday after presenting him with a medal from the Non-Commissioned Officers Association of the United States
as an Oregon veteran of World War II. WWII pilot Staryl Austin Jr. of Salem is among the 11.
...Staryl Austin Jr.
of Salem, like millions of Americans, served in the armed forces during World War II.
As a P-47 pilot in what was then the Army Air Corps
flew fighter-bombers in support of Allied troops advancing in Western Europe against the military forces of Nazi Germany.
But like many veterans of that war more than half a century ago, Austin
, 83, does not consider himself a hero.
"After 58 missions, I got home without a scratch," he
said."That was pretty notable.I never got a shot at an enemy airplane because we weren't doing that kind of work.But every time we flew, we were shot at."Austin
was stationed in Belgium, arriving in November 1944 after instructor duty in the United States.He
fought from the Battle of the Bulge to the German surrender in May 1945.
Most of his
missions were below 10,000 feet, which left his
airplane vulnerable to anti-aircraft and sometimes rifle fire as he
sought out targets such as tanks.
"At that time of the war, anything moving was military," he
said."The Germans didn't have a lot of gasoline left, and the military were the only ones who had it.So anything we could find was a legitimate target."Austin
, who grew up in Salem, stayed in what became the Air Force.He
was called up again for duty during the Korean War, but was stationed this time in Europe, flying patrols over a divided Germany.He returned to Salem in 1957, worked in the state Military Department, and headed the state Department of Veterans Affairs from January 1981 to December 1984.
...Staryl Austin Jr.
, Salem: Army Air Corps
(now U.S. Air Force).He was a P-47 fighter pilot with the 410th Fighter Squadron of the 373rd Fighter Group in Belgium, where he flew 58 combat missions.He was director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs for four years and is starting a second four-year term on its advisory committee.