4 FW spirit of volunteerism dates back to WWII

  • Published
  • By Dr. Roy Heidicker
  • 4th Fighter Wing historian
The heritage of the 4th Fighter Wing extends back to the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons of World War II. Long before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, American volunteers formed the Eagle Squadrons, joining England in the fight against Nazi Germany. 

These were dark days as the Nazis were triumphant throughout Europe. After Pearl Harbor, America joined the war against Germany, and the three Eagle Squadrons became the 334th, 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons that comprised the 4th Fighter Group. This storied organization would go on to destroy 1,016 German aircraft, more than any other American group or wing in any war. 

The 4th FW was born in the hearts of the Eagle Squadrons volunteers. This spirit of compassion and voluntarily helping others remains at the very core of this organization. 

Today there are those among us who volunteer their time and effort, who are dedicated to making our wing and the world a better place. These volunteer heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Some are spouses, retirees or possibly the Airman working beside you. 

Inspiration can come from many sources. Before he joined the 4th Fighter Group, Maj. John Godfrey lost his brother Reggie when a U-Boat sank Reggie's ship. Godfrey named his plane "Reggie's Reply" and went on to become the wing's all-time top scoring ace. He used the love for his brother and his own personal tragedy to provide the impetus to become a better warrior. 

Sometimes tragedy inspires people to become a different kind of warrior. The loss of a loved one in an accident or to disease can be the motivation for a person to become a champion to combat the cause of the loved one's death. The 4th FW is very fortunate to have such an individual within our midst. 

On Sept. 28, 2005, Staff Sgt. Danielle Holloway of the 333rd Fighter Squadron and her husband Billy suffered the passing of their seven-year-old son Cavion. Cavion lost his one and a half year battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Over the course of his illness, Cavion received a bone marrow transplant from the best match available, but the match was not a good one. No life-saving match could be found. It is possible that a better match and donor might have saved Cavion's life. Knowing this, Sergeant Holloway has dedicated herself to registering potential bone marrow donors in order to expand the pool of available matches. 

She was the compelling force behind two major base-wide bone marrow drives, including one in Southwest Asia as part of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. That drive alone brought 685 new registrants to the bone marrow donor program. Speaking of drives, she says, "I just get chills every time. In fact, the last drive we held, one guy has already gotten a phone call as a potential match. And it just brings great joy to me that maybe I'm preventing another mother from feeling the pain I feel everyday." 

If you would like to learn more about becoming a bone marrow donor go to www.dodmarrow.com. Sergeant Holloway is tentatively planning the next donor drive here sometime in May. Be a hero, sign up as a bone marrow donor. All it takes is a cotton swab and filling out a form and, who knows, you might just save a life. Because of Sergeant Holloway's work as a volunteer, lives have been saved and more lives will be saved. 

Not all volunteering is born of tragedy. 

Colonel Homer "Pappy" Hayes was born in 1924 and flew P-47 Thunderbolt fighters in World War II. His unit, the 395th Squadron of the 368th Fighter Group, was known as the "Panzer Dusters." During the Battle of the Bulge, his Squadron caught a German mechanized division in the open, destroying 250 vehicles, including panzer tanks. By the end of the war, Pappy had flown 115 combat missions. 

Colonel Hayes stayed in the Air Force until 1973. He flew with the 336th Fighter Squadron "Rocketeers" in 1969- 1970. Among his accomplishments were 125 combat missions in Southeast Asia and being responsible for nuclear strike weapons in Europe. 

In 1978, Pappy started a second career - he became a volunteer - initially to help retired people in Goldsboro. Then in 1981 he began volunteering at the base pharmacy. When Desert Shield started and half the lab deployed, Pappy moved over to the lab to offer his services there. 

Colonel Hayes still volunteers fifteen hours per week at the 4th Medical Group because he enjoys helping people. Conservatively, Pappy had put in over 18,000 as a volunteer - that's 18,000 hours of hard work in service to others. His wife, Mildred (who was his high school sweetheart) has spent 32 years as a Red Cross volunteer. This amazing couple will celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary in May. 

The 4th Fighter Wing is fortunate to have people like Colonel Hayes, Sergeant Danielle Holloway and many others, as warriors of compassion devoted to Team Seymour. They exemplify the spirit of the volunteer, begun so many years ago by the Eagle Squadrons.  Their care and selfless, dedicated service distinguishes them among the greatest heroes of the 4th Fighter Wing.