Southwest Greensburg WWII hero wanted to be bomber pilot
Robert “Archie” Long of Southwest Greensburg wanted to be a pilot when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in December 1943. With the United States fighting a war in Europe against the Germans and Italians and a war in the Pacific against the Japanese, the Army certainly needed pilots.
Long got to be a B-17 bomber pilot and flew 33 combat bombing missions over Germany and occupied Belgium and France, as well as in support of the critical Allied invasion of France in June 1944, said his son, Greg Long of Southwest Greensburg.
Long, who died at age 89 in 2011, saw some of the horrors of war as a pilot. A co-pilot was killed on one bombing mission and he saw another pilot killed in a crash, Greg Long said.
For his service to his country, Long was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the European Theater of Operations Ribbon with four Bronze Stars.
He will be among eight other war heroes from Pennsylvania who will be inducted into the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum’s Joseph A. Dugan Jr. Hall of Valor in Oakland on March 31. The Hall of Valor honors veterans who displayed courage and devotion to their comrades and the nation by performing “acts of valor during extraordinary times in the face of the enemy.”
A personalized plaque will be placed in the Hall of Valor that reflects the medal and citation of each inductee and is presented by an honor guard during the ceremony. It will be on display in the Hall of Valor for two years, then available for review through a kiosk.
Greg Long said he had tried to convince his father to agree to being inducted into the Hall of Valor in 2009. But he did want to do it.
“He was pretty closed-mouth about his wartime experience. He never said much about it. He felt (of his time in the Army) ‘That’s history,’ ” Greg Long said.
What he did not give up from his experience in the war was a love of flying, Greg Long said.
“He wanted to join the airlines. That was one of his regrets,” Greg Long said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .