Skip to comments.Minnesota fighter pilot profiled in Ken Burns' 'The War' dies at 87
Posted on 12/31/2008 6:52:50 AM PST by WOBBLY BOB
BETHESDA, Md. Quentin C. Aanenson, a Minnesota-born fighter pilot whose wartime experiences helped millions of television viewers understand World War II, has died.
A subject of Ken Burns' documentary "The War" and the producer of his own film a decade earlier, Aanenson died Sunday of cancer at his home in Bethesda, his son, Jerry, said. He was 87.
"He lived a magnificent life," Jerry Aanenson said. "He said if he had a chance to be 15 again, he wouldn't take it."
The native of Luverne, Minn., flew 75 combat missions in Europe as a captain in P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. His first was a bombing run on German positions in France on D-Day,
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I remember him from the program. R.I.P.
There is now a small airfield just south of Luverne named after him, and it has one of two parachute drop zones in the state of Minnesota there. A nice field and a fine tribute to a great man.
He had a quiet and gentle voice, and the heart of a lion.
Our country is diminished by his passing.
In the film, did he save some American soldiers on the ground by strafing some Germans that were sure to kill them, and he didn’t know who the Americans were, and many years later he was conversing with someone and they got onto the subject of the war, and one of them mentioned the incident, and they both realized that Aanenson was the pilot and he was one of the guys on the ground?
If that’s the film, I’ll tell you it was an incredible film. The pilot (Aanenson?) did more dangerous, heroic stuff than you can imagine. It was not a touchie feelie, how-bad-war-is film. Somehow they got a lot of footage of this guy in action.
. This is a true story. He dropped a 500 lb. bomb on a German tank approaching a group of American infantry. He only had one bomb,and to be sure he killed the tank, he had to fly in low and slow which meant his P-47 was going to be substantially damaged by the blast of his own bomb. He hit the tank, and his plane was damaged, but made it back to base. Later, pilot and infantry officer met on the campus of LSU. My Dad -- grad of LSU-- was on campus at same time this meeting took place. I have know this story since childhood.
God bless him, and his family. What a great story and I’m glad it was told after all these years. An everyday man doing incredible things - a true American hero and patriot.
It seems like a much different place now that they've passed.