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Robert Lee "Cherry" Klingler

Hersch Pahl (L) with "Cherry" Klingler

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Robert Lee "Cherry" Klingler had some experience in and F4U Corsair squadron in 1942 before joining Butch O'Hare's re-forming fighter Squadron at San Diego. "Cherry" was one of the first to begin training in the new F6F-3 Hellcats. He picked up the nickname of "Cherry" because of his perpetual blush and rosy cheeks.

L-R, Robert A. "Bob" Hobbs, Robert L."Cherry" Klingler and Herschel A. Pahl

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After the squadron was deployed, he first flew with other divisions; however, after shooting down a couple enemy aircraft and gaining more combat experience, he flew as a division leader during the next two combat cruises on the USS Hancock.

Christmas, 1943, the squadron met with our dear friends, Frank and Ethal Hoogs, at Wailiku, Maui for Christmas Dinner, at which time we joined the Hoogs family and others, in memorializing our late skipper. "Butch O'Hare.

He later participated in the 21 plane Memorial Flight of Hellcats back to Barber's Point on Dec 26, 1943.

On 29 March 1945, he lead his division heroically in protecting one of our downed aviators in a life raft in Kagoshima Bay in southern Japan. During the dog fight with enemy fighters his division shot down five enemy fighter planes which later lead to the rescue of "Pete" Somerville, the man in the water. You can read more of this heroic action here.

Cherry loved to party - here he's mixing drinks in celebration of the birth of Randy, Hersch's first born.

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"Cherry" was a friendly, lovable individual who loved to party with the rest of his buddies during our rare leisure moments ashore. He enjoyed participating in our song-fests even though he was not famous as a vocalist.

One night while the squadron was temporarily ashore at Barber's Point, while the Hancock was in drydock in Pearl Harbor being repaired, "Cherry" helped Cliff Seaver, my room mate, Jim Driver and I, in celebrating the birth of my son Randy.

The celebration involved the four of us simply having a sip or two of champaign that I chanced to find. After the party was

Cherry Klingler was an all-round good guy who I was proud to have served with on all three Combat Cruises - a true and loyal friend.

over, "Cherry" came to my rescue when I continued my celebrating in the near-by sleeping quarters of other pilots who were sleeping.

Once again "Cherry" participated in a rescue operation of a pilot in trouble (me) as he removed me from "harms way" and put me back to bed.

I consider it an honor to have served with this great guy in Butch O'Hare's fighter squadron, during all three combat cruises.

After the war, "Cherry" became an educator in the public school system and raised a family.

- Hersch Pahl

"For those who fought for it...
freedom has a flavor the protected will never know!"

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October 1, 2007