Bast, Victor E.
Victor "Vic" E. Bast, 91, Oconto Falls died Monday afternoon, December 23, 2013 at home, surrounded by his loving family. The only son of four children, he was born September 17, 1922 near Gillett, WI to William and Ruth (Flick) Bast. Vic grew up in the Oconto Falls area where he attended public schools, graduating high school with the class of 1938. He went on to receive his BS Degree in Education from UW-Oshkosh. Later Vic attended UW-Madison where he received his Master's Degree in Administration. He started teaching in a one-room school with 37 pupils in all 8 grades. Vic later moved to a two room school in Spruce where he taught grades 5-8.
When the Japanese attacked our unprepared country at Pearl Harbor, it plunged the United States into WW II. Vic tried to enlist in the Army
Air Corps but was sent home because there were no training bases to train aviators. After waiting several months, he was called to report to Texas where they were building air bases as fast as possible. After about one year of training at many bases, he got his wings and was sent to England where he was assigned to the 56th Fighter Group as a fighter pilot in P-47 Thunderbolts, the fastest airplane in the world at the time. His group had the record of more enemy planes destroyed than any group in the Army Air Corps. Vic came in with 16 replacements to cover pilots lost in the previous two weeks and only a few lived through to the end of the war. Because losses were so heavy, Vic quickly advanced to a leadership role and by the end of the war had flown 63 missions, destroyed 4 enemy planes and inflicted damage to 11 more in various air battles. In recognition, Vic received the Distinguished Flying Cross as well as the Air Medal 7 times. When the war ended Vic volunteered to go to Japan to be a Squadron Commander but there was no transportation and the war ended by the time he got back home. Following his honorable discharge from the military, Vic began teaching just 3 days after getting home and continued in education for 41 years, 25 as Principal.
On December 31, 1942 he married Geraldine "Jerry" Bast, and together they had six children. All six of their children attended St. Anthony Catholic School where Jerry taught for 11 years. As a lifetime member of St. Anthony Church, Vic served as a trustee and school board member for 12 years. He was a life member in the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans and The Military Twenty-Year Club, Inc. of Marinette. Vic remained in the reserves following his discharge and after 24 years retired as a Lt. Col., serving in all offices including commander. He was also a life member of the Retired Teachers Assoc. and other organizations. Following retirement, he and Jerry made many trips to visit their children. When Jerry became very sick their traveling ended so Vic could care for Jerry during the last three years of her life. In 2003, Vic married Agnes (Konitzer) Bridger and the couple had 10 good years together, spending their winters in Florida and summers in Oconto Falls.
Survivors are his wife, Agnes Bridger-Bast, Oconto Falls, WI; his five children, Ruth (Wayne) Zemke, Fullerton, CA; Margaret "Maggie" (Joe) Jones, Iola, WI; Vicki (Bill) Wendricks, Waynesboro, MS; Gloria (Bob) Edwards, Green Bay, WI; Victor W. (Diane) Bast, San Ramon, CA; 11 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, one great-great granddaughter; one sister, Delores Skarban, Milwaukee, WI; many nieces and nephews; Agnes's six children, Dan (Mary) Bridger, Salt Lake City, UT; Russ Bridger, Minneapolis, MN; Charles (Lynn) Bridger, Milwaukee, WI; Cindy (Dave) Boyd, Sarasota, FL; Gene (Sherry) Bridger, VA; Karin (Jon) Bridger, FL; their nine grandchildren and one great grandson.
Besides his parents and first wife Jerry, he was also preceded in death by his son and 20 year Navy pilot, Cmdr. William Victor Bast, two sisters, Loretta Lemirande and Mercedes Thielke and two brothers-in-law, Carl Lemirande and Bob Skarban and one son-in-law, Lee Shoemaker.
Visitation will be held 4-8pm Monday, December 30, 2013 at Jones Funeral Service in Oconto Falls. Visitation will continue at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Oconto Falls after 9:30am Tuesday, December 31, 2013 until time of service. Mass of Christian Burial will take place 11am Tuesday at the church with the Rev. Fr. Joel Sember officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in the church cemetery.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorials may be made to St. Anthony Catholic School or Unity Hospice of DePere.