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In Memoriam

Master Sergeant George L Voltz

1931-2014


George L Voltz was a good friend and supporter of AviationAtWar.com. His extensive Air Force career spanned multiple decades. He flew operationally in the B-29, B-50, KB-29 and 50, KC-97, KC-135, B-36, B-52, and very likely others that I was never aware of.

Flying as Radio and Electro Countermeasures operator, George seemed most proud of his thirty five missions over Korea in the B-29 'Haulin Ass', which can be seen in the slideshow on this page, and there are multiple photos of the plane in the Postwar and Korea Gallery. There are also numerous other B-29 photos taken during his time with the 343rd Bomb Squadron, 98th Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command flying from Yokota, Japan.

Eventually he moved to tankers flying the Boom Operator position. Starting in the KB-29 and KB-50 and then the KC-97, he transitioned into the KC-135 refueling fighters, flying 54 missions during Vietnam. One of George's favorite pastimes while refueling was taking photos of the fighters, many of which can be seen in the Vietnam Gallery. The fighter pilots apparently were not always thrilled that he was using his hands on the camera and feet to control the boom!

Through the help of friends at the Grissom Air Museum, in 2012 George was once again reunited with a KC-97 and able to man his position one last time. Video can be seen here in Part One and Part Two.

Knowing George for nearly thirteen years, I first learned of his Air Force service when overhearing him explaining how they would fill their Zippo lighters from the fuel drains on the B-29. George was very proud of his service and always had a sharp memory. Meeting at a time when my interest in aviation history was budding, he was always ready and willing to discuss anything aircraft related and shared countless stories. He was just as appreciative to me in taking so much interest in aviation and history as the rest of us are appreciative to soldiers and airmen for doing what they do. One of my favorite aircraft is the B-29 and naturally it was one of his also, he had given a standing offer to pay for a portion if I ever had the chance to fly on a B-29. I never had any intention of taking his money, but this is a testament to his character and how much he appreciated others' interest in flying and history.

Even if the same story did come up more than once it was always just as interesting the second time. I won't forget -

..."Curly" the accident prone B-29 pilot who yanked the throttles back before the flight engineer could pull power off, overran the engines and caused multiple immediate failures.

...The time that the bomb release mechanisms in 'Haulin Ass' had frozen preventing the bombs from releasing. There wasn't enough room to wear a parachute and take an oxygen bottle, as another crew member held his legs he went head first into the bomb bay wearing a small parachute to knock the bombs loose.

...Losing a turbo in a B-29 and having to spend the night on Guam.

...Flying a long range mission in the Pacific in the middle of the night and losing an engine. George radioed in that they had lost an engine. Air/Sea rescue was offered and he declined. Later that night when he radioed in that a second engine had failed there was panic on the other end and Air/Sea rescue was to be dispatched in their direction. George replied 'Negative, (plane's callsign) is a B-36.' From the other end came 'Roger Roger, B-36'.

...Having to bring along a second set of fatigues when standing fire guard for a B-36 engine start, because the first set is covered in oil by the time all six 4360's are running.

One of his quotes most memorable to me was "You only need three things to maintain flight - altitude, airspeed and ideas. If you run out of two at the same time then you're flight is over."

He took pride in his service and the airplanes he flew in. I never heard him say a bad thing about any airplane, including the infamous R-3350's in the B-29. One thing he did mention disliking was the heavy, manual boom in the KC-97 compared to the 135. He once joked that after moving to the KC-135 he was once written up for over controlling the boom because he was so used to the outdated KC-97. In the airplane's defense though, he would always remind that the KC-97 was never meant to do what it did and they ran the airplanes very hard to keep up with the jets. Wanting to expedite his way out of the KC-97 he spent many in-flight hours reading manuals and learning the aircraft's systems in depth to became an instructor on the aircraft.

Even when faced with his own health concerns he was always positive and concerned for others. Each time I would see him one of the first things he'd ask was how my wife and daughter were. The conversations would always end with the instruction that I was to give each one of them a hug from him, two people whom he never met.

For your service and years of friendship, reciprocating the same words you always said to me for things insignificant; Thanks my Friend.

Greg




Wade Voltz

Thank you Greg for honoring Pop

2017-06-30 19:30:22

Nathan

I will miss George and the stories he shared with us on us-aircraft

2015-01-13 12:21:44

Gayle Vautaw

I did not know George well. I do know a couple of his kids. I know by the kind of the kids he raised he was a great man.

2014-08-19 21:28:37

jerry james

George was a good man and will be missed.i had the honor of knowing George for around 20 years and worked with him about 4 years.he always had good advise.george always had a positive outlook.he always helped others.he enjoyed volunteering for almost everything always putting others before himself.he will be missed dearly. greg you did a great job with this article

2014-07-24 11:31:22

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