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Colonel John Wertz (USAF-Ret.)

He was born March 19, 1921, in Carroll, Ohio.
He enlisted in the Air Force Aviation Cadet program from Ohio State University in May 1942; he entered preflight training at San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center. Flight Training and commissioned 2nd Lt at San Angelo AAF, TX, August 1943 – B-17 Flight Crew training at Pyote, TX, and Alexandria, LA. The Crew flew a new B-17G aircraft from Kearney AAF, Nebraska via Puerto Rico, Brazil, Dakar, Marrakech, Casablanca, Foggia, Italy, base of the 99th Bomb Group 15 Air Force in December 1943. Wertz completed 50 combat missions over southern Europe, including missions to Ploesti, Romania, Austria, Germany and France. He received an appointment as a regular officer in the U.S. Air Force in October 1947.
Having received an Engineering Degree at New York University in 1949 Wertz made other accomplishments at the Wright Air Development Center, Dayton as a Project Manager and leader in Training & Flight Simulation Equipment. This included work on the development of the first Air Force Flight simulator, the B-50 Trainer. During this period he was the lead Navigator for an Air Material Command Logistics Survey Team around the world flight at the start of the Korean War. During 1953 he flew another 30 combat missions over North Korea in the B-29 while stationed with the 98th bomb wing at Yakota, Japan.
Wertz was later assigned to the System Project Offices for the development programs of the Titan I and Titan II Ballistic Missiles and later involved in the engineering and development of the MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory) space project. His awards included the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal w/9 oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal plus other awards. He was a Master Navigator. Col. Wertz retired at the Air Force Systems Command Andrews AFB, MD in December 1971. He is a member of the Air Force Association, the Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Navigators Association and the DAV.
He is survived by his wife, Wanda; daughter, Marsha Chalden; grandsons, Scott Chalden and Bret Markos; four great-grandsons; and many step-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Robert Wertz, and brother, Dean Wertz.
Published in the Pomerado News on Oct. 24, 2013
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