In memory of
Alexander Vraciu 1918 ~ 2015 41 Year Resident of Danville Alex Vraciu, renowned WW II fighter pilot and war hero, passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 29, 2015. Alex is preceded in death by his wife of 59 years Kathryn Louise Horn and sister, Betty Gall. Alex and Kathryn are survived by their 5 children, Carol Teague of Davis, CA, Robert Vraciu of Brentwood, TN, Linda Patton of Quincy, CA, Marilyn Finley of Sonora, CA, and Marc Vraciu of Santa Barbara, CA. At the time of his death, Alex had 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Alex and his family moved to Alameda, CA in 1961. He retired from the Navy in 1964. His second retirement was with Wells Fargo Bank, having already moved to Danville, CA. Born in East Chicago, on November 2, 1918, he was the second of two children to Romanian emigrants, Alexander and Maria Vraciu. He graduated in 1941 from DePauw University where he attended on scholarship. Immediately following graduation he entered naval flight training, earning his wings in August 1942 and began a storied 24 year career in the U.S. Navy. His many highlights include: flying as wingman for Medal of Honor recipient "Butch O'Hare"; ending WWII as the fourth-ranking Naval Ace, having shot down 19 enemy aircraft and destroyed 21 on the ground; surviving service on six carriers during WWII, two of which were torpedoed, two ditching and two parachute jumps; in a single flight shot down 6 enemy aircraft that were attacking U.S. carriers during the battle for the Marianas (picture in Smithsonian Air and Space Museum) and was nominated for the Medal of Honor, awarded the Navy Cross; survived anti-aircraft fire that forced him to bailout and spend 5 weeks with Philippine guerrillas (USAFFE) until American forces began liberating Luzon; and as commanding officer of VF 51, earned Top Gun honors in the 1957 Naval Air Weapons Meet. During the past 5 decades, Alex worked with air historians, documentary makers, authors and others interested in WWII air history to capture the stories and honor the brave Navy and Marine aviators who flew in the South Pacific. More about his remarkable story can be found in Ray Boomhower's biography, Fighter Pilot, The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu, published by the Indiana Historical Society. Alex and his wife Kathryn will make Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette, CA their final resting place following a private family service.
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