Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Sept. 4, 2000

Joe Herda: naval air veteran of 36 years flies again

Joe Herda, 80, retired Navy aviation chief and former Waverly resident, revisited history July 17, when he flew a 1943 WW II Navy fighter/dive bomber one more time.

The plane belongs to a friend, who is also a retired Navy pilot, Herda said.

Herda took off from Flemming Field in South St. Paul for an hour of acrobatics and fun flying.

The fun included a simulated strafing pass on a freight train traveling along the Mississippi River.

He said he couldn't make any tight loops, though, because he had angioplasty just two weeks before.

Enlisting Jan. 7, 1942, Herda served aboard five aircraft carriers during WW II, and the action in Korea and Vietnam.

He was a crew chief mechanic and an air crewman on observation scouts, dive bombers, and torpedo bombers.

Herda was selected to fly test flights for the Navy with the test pilots, he and learned to fly well.

On one bombing mission, his pilot passed out on the second dive. With basic controls and instruments in the back cockpit, Herda regained control of the plane and circled the area, while the rest of the flight dropped the remainder of its bombs.

Then, he flew the plane back to the base. Just after breaking formation and dropping the landing gear, the pilot regained consciousness and helped land the plane.

Herda flew more than 20 different types of Navy planes and two types of helicopters.

The last 10 years of his career, he flew as flight engineer on long range patrol bombers, criss-crossing half the world.

His three oldest sons served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

Herda and his wife, Ann, who lived in Waverly for 19 years, reside in Baldwin County, Ala., just 20 miles from the gulf coast.

They are here visiting some of their children: Connie Sterner of Winsted, Steve Herda of Waverly, Jim Herda of St. Joseph, Terry Hutto of New Ulm, and Maryjo Mattson of Eagan.

Their other children are scattered throughout the United States: Dan Herda of Boise, Idaho, Joe Herda in Tennessee, and Dave Herda of Valley Mills, Texas.

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