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St Petersberg Times
St. Petersberg, Florida
re: Military Honors for a Pearl Harbor Hero - Col. Geo. T. Dwyre
St. Petersberg has lost one of its treasures. One of its unique citizens from the “greatest generation” died on June 20th at 90 years old.
Col. George T. (“Therm”) Dwyre was a Pearl Harbor survivor who was wounded setting up machine guns to shoot down the attacking Japanese airplanes on the “day that will live in infamy.” He was also a B-24 pilot flying 35 dangerous missions over enemy territory in the European Theater of WWII. After the was he served at the highest levels. The true American success story. His service and dedication allowed him to progress from Army recruit to Full Colonel in his 33 years of service.
He will be buried October 21, 2010 with the full military honors that he earned by his over 33 year service to this country.
Two of his children, Bob Dwyre and Paula Noggle are still residents of St. Petersberg. As you can see by my address, I am the third child and have moved to Texas.
In the past he has been interviewed by St. Petersberg and Tampa news reporters for both newspapers and television. There has always been a special interest in my father, Col. George T. (“Therm”) Dwyre around the time of the anniversary of the December 7th sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. He has even been personally honored at a Rays baseball game. Over the over 40 years he has been in St Petersberg he has spoken at numerous civic gatherings regarding his service.
His service to this nation was at the highest levels - he went to over 90 countries on America’s business - briefed high ranking dignitaries, senior officers, and politicians. He attended a private meeting in the oval office with President Kennedy.
There is a 20 X 20 Plaque in his honor at the National Museum of the Pacific War and has the following text and art work.
George Thurman (“Thurm”) Dwyre, Colonel USAF - Spring Valley
From Army Private to Air Force Colonel - From Small Town Boy to Hero
Born November 16, 1919, Thurm grew up in a small Midwest town of 4,800, Spring Valley, Illinois. The son of a carpenter and a music teacher he was raised in the height of the depression when most American families were forced to live at the poverty level and survived with hard work, eating from their own backyard gardens, making their own clothes or mending and altering clothes from one sibling to the next. Upon graduation from Hall Township High School (class of 1936) his family was too poor to take advantage of the college scholarships so he chose to enlist in the Army.
He enlisted in the Army when he was 19 years old on November 1, 1939. He enlisted about the same time as four of his Spring Valley buddies enlisted. They were issued uniforms, given short orientation and then off to Honolulu and Hickam Field. As an army Private his pay was $21 a month and he was able to send money back home.
Meanwhile a beautiful redheaded girl, Leslie Barbara Lane, was raised and schooled in Honolulu had finished her studies at Roosevelt High School and was promoted as a supervisor
with the Honolulu Mutual Telephone Company.
Thurm and Leslie met, fell in love and were engaged to be married in the summer of 1942. They were married 62 years before her death in 2004.
Both of them were in Honolulu Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Both of them were called to serve their country because of the December 7th attack and both proudly served side by side for more than 33 years.
“The wing of my barracks was on the south side, second floor, and across the street from the hangar line and offered a full view of the entire area. I was in our barracks, getting ready to join some friends for a beach party. It was 7:55 a.m. Suddenly, Japanese aircraft were strafing and bombing the entire hangar line – hangars and planes. The noise of the exploding bombs and machine gun fire was deafening and drew my attention to the hangars and aircraft that were parked less than 100 yards from my position. I saw the red dot markings on Japanese aircraft wings as they made their turn off the low level bomb run. One B-18, parked in an open space between two hangars, was blown up with a direct hit as I watched. Many curious and confused airmen ran onto the open parade ground only to be strafed by the Japanese aircraft turning off their bomb run. Yet, at the same time, I saw angered and frustrated airmen throwing rocks at the enemy aircraft. Angered at the realization that war had come and frustrated that they did not have the weapons to fight back. The noise was unescapable, the scene was unforgettable and the damage unbelievable.” Col. Dwyre’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, St Petersberg, Florida 2006
Then a Sergeant, Thurm Dwyre located a stock of machine guns in a warehouse. He set up one .50 caliber machine gun, tested it and then had a private operate it while he and one of his buddies went back to the warehouse to get more weapons.
He was returning with another machine gun and ammunition when he saw six aircraft in formation approaching from the west - when he saw the bombs being released he shouted “HIT THE GROUND!!” They hugged the ground as bombs exploded around them. The concussion raised their bodies off the ground. He was hit by the shrapnel and driven to the hospital like so many others wounded in the attack. On the way to the hospital he was strafed by another plane and questioned whether or not he would survive.
When the attack started, as a telephone supervisor, Leslie was busy connecting the high ranking personnel with Washington, D.C. She recalls that a direct transpacific phone line to Washington, D.C. had been installed at least a week prior to the attack. The supervisors were also given a list of key personnel to be notified in case of an emergency. She remembered that the responses to the alert calls ranged from shock to disbelief. The disbelievers were told to look toward Pearl Harbor where they could see the smoke billowing from the destructive bombing at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field.
After Sergeant Dwyre recovered from his injuries, he and Leslie were married on January 1, 1942 while he was on a 2-hour pass - we were at war and the military was busy.
Thereafter, Thurm and Leslie served together.
Thurm was assigned to gliders - he became an instructor. Then he was assigned to heavy bombers where he was the Aircraft Commander of the B-24 Liberator flying 35 missions over enemy territory in the European Theater. Leslie waited like so many wives of our sailors, soldiers and airmen in each of the wars where they are called to serve.
WWII ended with an unconditional surrender from our enemies, which meant freedom for the world thanks to Thurm and Leslie and so many others like them who gave unselfishly - some who gave their lives in service to the country they loved.
In his career Thurm served as: Officer’s Aircraft Maintenance with Training Commands; Director of Instrument Maintenance School; Contract Training Project (ATC); Advisor to the Chinese National Air Force in Formosa; Pentagon test programs for Atlas and Titan Missile Systems; Venezuela - Advisor to Venezuelan Air Force; Panama Canal Zone and served on the joint staff with Unified Command, Southern Command; Pentagon - assistance programs throughout Central and Latin America; USAF Headquarters in the Panama Canal Zone, Chief of Staff for Latin American Affairs; Deputy Chief of Staff of the United States Readiness Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
Thurm and Leslie retired June 1, 1973 after serving 33 years and 7 months.
Military Decorations Earned Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart (for his wounds resulting from the Dec 7th attack), Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Achievement Award, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service medal with a battle star verifying active duty at Pearl Harbor area during the attack of December 7th American Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign with one battle star (denoting the attack on Pearl Harbor) European-Africa-Middle East Campaign with five battle stars
Two of the Greatest of What Has Been Called America’s Greatest Generation
The captions for the enclosed pictures are as follows:
Wedding Day, January 1, 1942 - Honolulu, Hawaii - Thurm and Leslie Dwyre
Flight Officer George Thurman (“Thurm”) Dwyre (age 23 - 1942)
1944-45 Lt. Dwyre, pilot (top left), and his B-24 crew - 35 Missions
8th Air Force, 2nd Division, 458th Bomb Group, 754th Heavy Bombardment Squadron
He had the same crew when he started as he did when he ended his 35 missions. He lost a total of 12 engines and returned with 4 planes damaged so badly they never flew again - The Dear Lord was watching out for him and his crew.
Col Dwyre 2009 Military Officer’s Association (MOA) ball
If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (210) 365-6115 (cell).
John Steven Dwyre