Col. Dwight R. Pierce, 91, Cape Coral, Fla., died peacefully at his home on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.
He was born Feb. 13, 1922 in Polo, the son of Lemuel and Susie (Cable) Pierce.
After graduation from Polo High School in 1939, he would be beckoned to the skies over Western Europe during World War II.
Serving first as a U.S. Air Force enlisted member from 1939 to 1942, he went on to earn his wings and a commission as Second Lieutenant on Jan. 30, 1943.
He flew more than 22 combat missions over Germany as the pilot of a B26 Marauder (better known as “The Widow Maker” or “Flying Coffin”).
After the war he returned home to successfully manage Kroger stores in Woodstock, Rockford, and Oregon.
He met Norma Jeanne Pierce at the Dome Roller Rink in Dixon, and they were married Dec. 9, 1947.
Their honeymoon was a trip to Florida, won as the result of him being an “outstanding” manager for the Kroger Company.
At that time, they both agreed to retire in Florida! And they did!
Alas, the skies still beckoned to him, and he returned to active duty as Captain on Jan. 19, 1953, eventually retiring as a full Colonel on July 31, 1970.
Rising quickly through the ranks, his hundreds of flight hours included piloting the B-29, KC-97, and KC-135/air refueling.
He received numerous decorations and commendations throughout his entire Air Force career.
He is survived by his daughters, Nancy C. Gehlker, Homosassa, Fla., and Julie L. O’Brien (Joe) North Fort Myers, Fla.; grandchildren, Jeffrey (Megan) LaCoursiere, Naperville, Tamara (Daryn) Mullholand, St. Petersburg, Fla., Melissa (Scott) Weathers, Winter Springs, Fla., Kelli Pierce Roley, Homosassa, Fla., Jennifer Leigh O’Brien, Asheville, N.C., Jeanne Marie O’Brien, Asheville, N.C.; nine great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents; former wife, Norma Jeanne Pierce; sisters, Dale Pieper, Lacie Pieper, Dovie Cooper; and brothers, Lemuel Jr. and Wayne Pierce.
Funeral services were held Sept. 24 at Polo Family Funeral Home, 110 E. Dixon St., Polo, Military honors followed at Fairmount Cemetery, Polo.
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