This nice meeting took place more than 72 years after that former U.S. Marine Corps and WWII Veteran Lt. Col. Ferrill A. Purdy, 94, flew on it for first time on June 24, 1944. The plane is the F4U-1 Corsair, most known by its nickname “Whistling Death". Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II, and the U.S. Navy counted an 11:1 kill ratio with the F4U Corsair.
The WWII fighter pilot was reunited with the plane at the Columbia Regional Airport surrounded by more than 200 people, including family, friends and other veterans, as Columbia Daily Tribune reported. Because of his age and health, Ferrill Purdy was unable to take a ride. After thousands of hours of flying, though, he said, he has had enough time in the air. His last flight had been on July 3, 1944.
The F4U-1 Corsair belongs to the collection of Planes of Fame Museum. This is the oldest airworthy Corsair in the world. They are owners of this plane since 1966, but they had never could connect the plane with any of its former pilots. Thanks to Michele Spry, a writer and Purdy's friend, this connect was possible. She discovered Purdy's flight book, which included dates he flew the Corsair.
Purdy is the inspiration for Spry’s second children’s book, “A Trip to Remember.” The fictional tale follows an elderly veteran and a young boy on a “hero tour,” to Washington, D.C., similar to the Central Missouri Honor Flight.
As Columbia Daily Tribune reported, Purdy was 22 when he enlisted the day after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Purdy is recipient of five air medals, and he is waiting to hear if he also will receive a Purple Heart, or two. During his first tour, enemy forces struck his oil cooler and all his oil drained, causing him to land off of Wotje Island in the Marshall Islands. In his second tour, Japanese forces attacked Purdy, leaving shrapnel in his legs, an arm and face.
Purdy is a another World War II hero who deserves to be remembered. He is history alive. He is a member of the Greatest Generation. Don't forget them! They fought for our freedom!