2017-03-31 / Front Page

Special tribute salutes genuine American hero

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Honor Flight Maine flies Saco World War II veteran to Washington
Executive Editor

SACO — None of us can ever begin to repay World War II veterans for the sacrifices they made to America in the defense of liberty, yet as Trygve 'Trig" Lund of Saco boards an Honor Flight plane Friday morning for a courtesy trip to Washington, D.C., he is grateful for the public recognition of his military service in World War II.

Lund, 95, will be among a group of Honor Flight Maine World War II veterans being flown for free to Washington to tour the World War II Memorial and be thanked for their contributions to our enduring freedom.

"Personally, I think I would like to meet the donors that have made this possible," Lund said. "I don't feel I deserve something like this because it's quite an honor and I'm humbled to be included in this."

Created to honor America’s veterans for all of their service and sacrifices, Honor Flight Maine is part of the national Honor Flight Network that transports aging veterans to Washington, D.C. to tour, experience and reflect at national memorials at no cost to the veterans. The Honor Flight concept was originally conceived by Earl Morse, a retired Air Force Captain and a physician assistant who now lives in Bangor.

Lund said he is eagerly awaiting his trip to Washington and an opportunity to view the World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004.

"I hadn't heard of Honor Flights before, but a friend told me about them, so I went on the computer and sent in an application," he said. "Two weeks later they called and told me I was going to Washington."

Born Dec. 15, 1921 in Baltimore, Maryland, Lund was the son of a father who was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. His family moved seven times before he graduated from Springfield High School outside of Philadelphia in 1940.

For a brief time he was employed as a soda jerk and worked for a grocery store before landing a job as an office boy for Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, which published the Ladies Home Journal magazine.

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Lund didn't rush out to volunteer.

"I stayed with the publishing company for a while and did whatever was needed," he said. "One day I left work and went by the U.S. Army recruiter and they were closed. The U.S. Navy office nearby was open and I went in and took the Navy test and the rest is history."

He passed the test and was sent by the Navy to the University of North Carolina for cadet training, a prelude to flight school. On a bulletin board there he noticed a posting for a 13-week course in Hollywood Beach, Florida to become an aircraft navigator and thought it was a quicker path to becoming an officer as cadets received commissions as ensigns upon graduation.  

Completing that program in 1942, Lund was sent to California for further training and was selected to become a member of an 11-man B-24 flight crew.

"We did more training in Hawaii and then we were flying as part of the combat support at Guadalcanal," Lund said. "It was our first entry into the South Pacific theater."

According to Lund, the mission for Navy B-24 Liberator flight crews was to patrol specified vectors over the Pacific Ocean.

"Basically we would fly 1,000 miles, make a left turn and patrol another 200 miles," he said.   

As a navigator, Lund would be seated behind the pilot and use a sextant, a reflective navigational tool, to help pilots guide the aircraft through the vast Pacific skies.

"I'd use the sextant to take fixes of the stars at night, The ground speed and air speed would vary quite a bit and you would have to figure out the drift of the airplane," he said. "About 70 percent of it was dead reckoning. We'd look down and ask what island is that? It was kind of hairy for a while. There was lots of water."

Throughout his service, Lund encountered the reality of war when he experienced tragic losses.

"I started out with one flight crew, but I eventually was switched to another crew," he said. "Later on we were all out on patrol together and they didn't come back. That entire crew was lost."

Another time, the aircraft of his close friend and Navy buddy Bill "Sammy" Snead crashed upon takeoff and all aboard the plane died. Lund was so moved with by his friend's death that he wrote a letter to Snead's family and then visited with his parents in Missouri years later. 

By the end of the war in 1945, Lund had flown thousands of miles over places like the Solomon Islands and been a crew member on support missions for a few more battles, including Guam.

He was discharged from the military as a Lieutenant (junior grade) in 1946 after flying supplies from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands as a navigator for the U.S. Naval Air Transport Service.  

Bitten by the acting bug, Lund used the GI Bill to take drama courses and joined a summer stock company in Massachusetts instructed by Robert Ludlum, who later wrote the Bourne Trilogy novels. Other members of the stock company included Pat Carroll, whio later appeared on the "Make Room for Daddy" television show with Danny Thomas and future Hollywood legend Paul Newman.

Living in Philadelphia, Lund was hired by a TV station as a cameraman and then as a stage manager before going to work for a CBS morning show where he met the late comedian Ernie Kovacs. When Kovacs got his own program, Lund joined him as an actor and writer for the show. He later operated a teleprompter for TV soap operas and retired in 1982 as a director for public access shows in Manhattan.  

He was married three times, surviving two wives who died, and has a son and a daughter. Lund now lives with his step-daughter Hilda Sastre in Saco and reflects often about his time in the military.

"I feel fortunate to have reached this age, but I think a lot about the guys I served with and those who didn't come home," Lund said. "This Honor Flight is something I will always cherish. They are giving me quite an honor."  

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be contacted 282-1535, ext. 326 or by email at editor@journaltribune.com.

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