Alex Vraciu, RIP
Alex Vraciu departed the ship earlier today, at age 96. He was the ranking surviving American Ace of World War II at the time of his death. I had the good fortune of meeting Alex a few times at AFAA events. I would have to rank him as one of the nicest guys I ever met, but under that nice there was steel. He was a tiger. There are now 84 American aces of World War II living, including now 23 Navy aces.
Interestingly enough, a few minutes after the famous picture was taken of Alex holding up six fingers for his score on June 19, 1944 – at the time for about an hour (until Dave McCampbell shot down 7), it was the American record – he learned that his wings had not been down and locked through the entire fight. Tough pilot in a tough airplane.