|Lt. Wallace Wydeen piloted blimps such as the one depicted in this painting.|
Wallace Abraham Wydeen could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on April 7, 1917 in New Jersey. His parents were both born in New York. His father was a salesman in the steel specialties industry. Wallace had three younger brothers and one younger sister. By 1940 he was in his fourth year of college, still living at home.
Wallace enrolled in naval aviation training in November 1941 and obtained the rank of lieutenant. He served in the North Atlantic and also the Caribbean. His three younger brothers also served in the Navy. They all lived through the war, although his brother Doug, who was the radio/gunner on torpedo planes, survived more than one crash.
Lt. Wydeen was a lighter-than-air pilot who flew K-type blimps on anti-submarine patrols for the Navy. On one mission, Lt. Wydeen's blimp helped sink a U-boat in the Caribbean. It took ten hours for a series of planes to sink the U-boat, which was unable to submerge for some reason. Lt. Wydeen's blimp stayed out of AA range, but close enough to direct the planes where to attack. As a result of the long mission, Wydeen's blimp ran out of fuel and was lost, but the whole crew was saved.
Lt. Wydeen was not so lucky on October 30, 1943. On that day his blimp disappeared somewhere in the Caribbean. All eight men aboard were lost.
He is remembered at the East Coast Memorial in Manhattan.
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