Brave flights: ‘Flying Tiger’ pilot turns 100, folks rewarded for passions

February 2019 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, Community

“It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.”

– Tom Brokaw, author, The Greatest Generation

Mr. Brokaw, meet Captain Art Gregg. Really. You need to meet him. He turns 100 on Feb. 16. You will like him. You could write a book about him.

Captain Art Gregg

Like so many members of the “Greatest Generation,” he is quiet, does not brag about his accomplishments, and feels he served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II because it was the right thing to do.

For those of you old enough to remember the classic 1942 John Wayne movie, Flying Tigers, you will remember the brave, gallant young men fighting in China just prior to the start of the war. Art Gregg never stepped on the movie set and never had a make-up artist. He was, and is, the real deal. Capt. Gregg flew the legendary P-40E Warhawk, the fast fighter planes dubbed “The Flying Tigers” under the command of Lt. General Claire “Lee” Chennault, nicknamed “Old Leatherface.”

Art served for four years as a fighter pilot, and spent from April of 1942 to November 1943 overseas, primarily in the CBI theater – China, Burma, and India. He flew 25 missions and received the Air Medal and shot down a Japanese Zero. He was awarded the prestigious “Distinguished Flying Cross” in June 1943. He was in the Officer’s Club when the larger-than-life General
Jimmy Doolittle came in with his squadron right after their successful mission bombing Tokyo.

Today, he is a soft-spoken, charming near-centenarian living near the Abiqua outside of Silverton with his daughter, Ann and son-in-law Le Snelling. Just your everyday hero near the head of the class of The Greatest Generation, getting ready to celebrate his 100th birthday with a few hundred close friends, a couple of generals, a State Representative, and receive the thanks of a grateful town, state, and nation, for his service. There will be an open house for his 100th  birthday Saturday, Feb. 16, 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Silverton Senior Center, 115 Westfield, Silverton.

Brigadier Generals Donna Prigmore and Mark Crosby with the Oregon Air National Guard will recognize Capt. Gregg, as will State Representative Rick Lewis, Silverton. Congressman Kurt Schrader will have a representative from his office present a gift.

Those who wish to send their best are encouraged to send Art a birthday card, notes, memories, anecdotes, and/or photos to Art Gregg, P.O. Box 891, Silverton, OR, 97381, and those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to: ArtGregg2030@gmail.com.

The still-dashingly handsome and gallant pilot says, “No gifts, please (Just chocolate!).” Overflow parking is offered by the Silverton Baptist Church next to Robert Frost school on Westfield, just below the Senior Center. Cake and refreshments will be served. What else? A huge chocolate cake with a P-40E Warhawk Flying Tiger adorning the top.

Marcos Sanchez of Mount Angel, a 2018 JFK graduate and current Chemeketa Community College student, is a passionate Right-To-Life advocate. He currently serves as the founder and president of Chemeketa Students for Life. He was excited to attend the March for Life rally in our nation’s capital in January, with nearly half a million people in attendance, and with it he was invited to a roundtable discussion with Vice President Mike Pence.

“That experience was unforgettable,” Sanchez said. “It was encouraging to hear from Mr. Pence. I was able to share my experience as a pro-life student activist and had the opportunity to discuss the challenges, controversy, and criticism I face due to my involvement in the pro-life movement. Meeting Vice President Pence was something I never imagined doing.”

Congratulations to the Environmental Biology class at Silverton High School, taught by Alison Stolfus. They wrote a grant application to MAPS Credit Union a few months back, and they won! The class received a $1,000 grant for Stream Enhancement for Silver Creek. According to one of the students, Carleigh McFall, the class will use the money to buy supplies for stream enhancement. Carleigh, a junior, is also starting an Environmental Biology Club at the high school. The students received the check (in gigantic check form) from district staff and MAPS representatives.

As Carleigh states, “Ms. Stolfus has inspired me and made a life-long impact on how I view the world and our environment.” She plans to continue her environmental biology studies in college.

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