ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Out of the millions of men who served in World War II, there’s a Rockford man who shines through the camouflage. At 94-years-old, retired Airforce Major Fred Ohr lives his life teaching us about history and says he remembers the words his mother told him as a boy.
“I told my mom that it was an impossible dream and she told me if the desire is great enough, it will happen.”
Retired Airforce Major, Fred Ohr still fits into the same military jacket he wore as a fighter pilot in World War II. While the coat hasn’t changed, the man inside is now 94-years old and still remembers the battles and near death experiences he faced as a teen and he remembers them well, including his first flight in the war and the unsettling words from his crew chief.
“He said ‘sir, the only thing I can tell you is that they brought this plane in and flew it in after dark, and we didn’t even have a chance to see what was wrong with it.’ I said ‘will it fly?’ He said ‘I can tell you it flew in here, let’s give it a try.’”
That fighter jet exploded mid-flight. Ohr was able to land the aircraft but then set it on fire with a lighter so it wouldn’t get into enemy hands. He was then saved by a group of service men, men he’ll never forget.
“They didn’t know if I was shot down, whether I made it or whatever but they came to rescue me and I thought that was very brave.”
Ohr says he carried out more than 100 missions during the war and still has trouble coping with some of the fatal decisions he was forced to make in order to survive.
“They decorate you in all this kind of stuff, ya know? But it’s really hard and you have to do it or you don’t live,” Ohr said.
Ohr says he always felt like he had to prove himself, and said he was discriminated against for being a Korean American. He has so many stories to tell, of his many awards and even betrayal from his peers. Ohr still likes to fly and recently was taken up in a plane where he says he felt like he was home.
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