DENVER (CBS4) – One of the few ace American pilot from World War II who is still alive lives in Denver.

David Wilhelm, 95, flew 148 missions during the war and recalled his three years of service on Veterans Day.

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He still has all the letters he wrote home daily to his parents, a hand written diary plus all of his flying logs from the war.

CBS4's Suzanne McCarroll interviews David Wilhelm. (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Suzanne McCarroll interviews David Wilhelm. (credit: CBS)

One of his most nerve-wracking missions came in April 1944 when something went terribly wrong.

“Something went wrong with my oxygen system,” are his words in his journal. He writes of passing out from a lack of oxygen in the plane, coming to and having to fire on the enemy and then passing out again.

“I never thought much about that,” Wilhelm told CBS4 on Tuesday.

Wilhelm’s letters home include a thanks to his mother for sending him a scarf, socks, cookies and candy. He says his father kept all of those letters and had them typed and bound.

“Because as all parents are, they were very worried and concerned about their little boy,” said Wilhelm modestly.

Wilhelm showed CBS4 his medals, which include the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal.

(credit: CBS)

One of Wilhelm’s photos (credit: CBS)

“Were you ever close to being shot down?” CBS4’s Suzanne McCarroll asked Wilhelm.

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“Oh, I had people on my tail and bullets going by my cabin,” he said.

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“We could dodge out of it.”

Wilhelm is putting together a book, not to honor himself but to provide future generations with a personal account of the war.

“You were kind of a big deal,” McCarroll said with a smile during the interview.

“Yeah? I don’t know about that,” he joked.

Additional Resources

On the website of the Museum of Flight, located in Seattle, it describes Wilhelm’s as follows:

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Chicago native Wilhelm entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 after graduation from Yale University with a Second Lieutenant’s commission through ROTC. As a pilot he was assigned to … the 309th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group. Wilhelm initially few Spitfires and soon transitioned to the P-51 Mustang. Wilhelm was involved in escort missions during the famous Allied bombing raids over Ploesti, Romania. Wilhelm is credited with six aerial combat victories with aircraft including Me-109s, FW-190s and an Me-210. He left the service at the end of the war and established a successful career in the cattle industry.