Friday, April 25, 2008
Ralph Linzmeier, awarded medal for WWII flying, dies
Pilot did a dead stick landing of a B-24 full of bombs while flying over Germany in 1945.
By MARK EADES
STAFF WRITER, Orange County Register
MISSION VIEJO – Col. Ralph Linzmeier, a retired Air Force pilot awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in World War II, died early Wednesday of natural causes at Mission Hospital.
The Mission Viejo resident was 89.
Linzmeier was awarded the medal for exceptional bravery and skill for landing his B-24 aircraft full of bombs after losing all four engines while flying over Belgium on Jan. 1, 1945 in route to a bombing run on Germany.
In his own words, Linzmeier described what happened that day:
‘It was on New Year’s Day in 1945. We were bombing along the Rhine.
‘Our biggest problem in Europe was weather. We had bad weather and kept flying higher and higher. We were using too much gasoline while trying to circle to drop our bombs. Our No. 3 engine quit.
‘We started back with our bombs on board because we were running out of gas. I let down to about 18, 000 feet, and I had the men ready to bail out. Then we noticed a snow-covered airfield.
‘I told the crew I would try to make it and got the bombardier to diffuse the bombs so they wouldn’t go off. I started coming down at 5, 000 feet a minute. Then I made a turn and all the engines died. It was a flying controlled truck at that point.
‘I landed in the middle of this snow-covered air field in Chevres, Belgium. Back at the base they didn’t know what had happened to us. We finally got enough fuel through 5-gallon gas cans and flew back to England.’
After the war, Linzmeier was part of the Presidential Airlift Wing and tasked with flying high ranking members of Congress and foreign dignitaries around the world. He also served on several air bases around the world.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1963, Linzmeier worked in the financial services industry, and stayed active in the field until taken ill late last year.
A funeral Mass celebrating Linzmeier’s life will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, at San Francisco Solano Church, 22082 Antonio Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita. Linzmeier will be buried with full military honors next week at Riverside National Cemetery.
Linzmeier was born Feb. 4, 1919, in Dinuba, California.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Patricia; three sons, Ralph Jr., David, Mark; three daughters, Anne Ianiro, Janelle Furstinger, Marybeth Dorst and nineteen grandchildren.