Hometown Hero: George Sager

- De PERE (WFRV) George Sager recalls many details of his time in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II.

"This was the last inspection they were doing for our barracks," he recalled while browsing through a thick photo album.

It's nearly 73-years since Sager graduated from Coleman High School right at the beginning of World War Two. He decided to get involved in the fighting, but on his terms.

"I decided I want to fly. I didn't want to...I've got nothing against marching in the army. But I decided I want to fly," Sager said.

Sager enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and graduated basic training. While preparing to go on to occupational training, a colonel discovered that George lacked a prerequisite to become a cadet: two-years of college.

"He said--"What we're going to do George is send you to college. The problem is you're going to have to do two-years of credits in one year," Sager remembers.

Sager met that challenge. During a review by senior officers after graduation, he was offered his choice of pilot, navigator or bombardier. He chose to be a bombardier.

"When we fly on a mission and we subject ourselves to death every time we go," Sager said. :"And I want to make this decision on why I'm in space--"Do I say bombs away?" Where is that space? I want to be responsible for picking it."

Sager was assigned to the 875th Bomb Squadron which flew B-29 Superfortress bombers out of Saipan, in the Marianna Islands. That location allowed attacks on the Japanese mainland. On one mission in April 1945, nine bombs failed to drop. Sager went to the bomb bay, without a parachute and kicked them loose one at time. He took his task seriously.

"I want to hit or miss that target. I wanted to do it. I didn't want someone else to do it," Sager said.

Sager would fly 35 successful missions. And the last one was very easy to remember.

"All of a sudden our radio operator comes on and says--"Japan surrendered. The news is on," Sager recalls. "But we had already dropped our bombs. So our mission was over anyway."

Sager would spend several months more flying in doctors and medical supplies for U.S. prisoners of war and others. He would then return home to the family business for a few years, until a letter arrived.

"I thought I'd better open this one from the Air Force. And I did. It was my orders. Back to duty," he said.

But this time Sager would help train U.S. bomber pilots during the Korean War. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. George says he might have made the military a career. And he believes it's an experience for young people to consider.

"If you have the desire to live the military life or even to sample it, do it," Sager advises.

Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.

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