No fear. That’s the quality I remember most of my father Mike Landa Sr. He was member of the “Greatest Generation.” My father served as a staff sergeant in the US Army Air Corps during World War Two. He was in charge of ground crews that refueled warplanes in North Africa and the China-Burma-India theatre.
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How he got there is an interesting story. It began in 1940 when my father and his best friend decided to join the US Navy. As a skinny kid from Alhambra High School Dad knew it would be difficult to meet the military weight requirement. Despite eating a bunch of bananas before going to the recruiting station my Dad was rejected, but his friend Reyner Aquirre of San Gabriel was accepted. Tragically Aquirre was assigned as a sailor on the USS Arizona. He died on December 7th, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Oahu. His name is engraved on the wall at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. In a personal tribute to his pal my father gave me Reyner as a middle name.
Later in 1941, Mike Landa Sr. was able to join the US Army. At one point during his deployment to India he volunteered for a mission over the Hump to Burma. During the bumpy ride in a C-47 transport plane flying over the Himalaya Mountains he described it as a near death experience. After landing in Burma my father and the men he had convinced to join him as volunteers found themselves at an airstrip with the Japanese exchanging gunfire with General Stillwell’s army.
In 1945 he came home from the war as a strong yet gentle man. This man with movie star good looks worked for many years in a non glamorous profession as a union electrician at a Vernon meat packing house. Today people still have fond memories of his charm, and sense of humor. He was old school when it came to pain. He denied it existed. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1994 he had peace with God and No Fear.