Olentangy Valley News

Powell pilot flies above and beyond

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

When American forces embedded in Vietnam's A Shau Valley ran low on supplies in spring 1968, an officer scheduled several supply runs to be led by Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Louis Gale.

In three runs through dangerous territory, starting at 5 a.m., Gale dropped 90,000 pounds of supplies, including ammunition and food.

"They were completely out of everything they needed," he said. "They were penned in and couldn't get out."

Located in South Vietnam, the valley was a key infiltration route for North Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War.

For his service, Gale was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest military decoration for valor that can be awarded by the U.S. Armed Forces.

Decades later, the 92-year-old Powell resident has been honored as one of 20 new inductees into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.

An induction ceremony was held Friday, May 3, at the Ohio Statehouse atrium.

Each year since 1999, the Hall of Fame has inducted 20 Ohio residents into its ranks. This year's class includes representatives from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps who served during World War II, as well as the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.

Gale served in both World War II and Vietnam.

He entered the Air Force in 1943 after graduating from college and immediately left for Europe.

After WWII, he worked as part of the Air Force support staff purchasing plane parts in Texas, and later at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

"At Wright-Patterson, I was flying a desk," he said, "so I would work until 5 o'clock or so, and then I'd go down to fly for a few hours, just because I loved to fly."

He was offered a job at the Pentagon but turned it down, because he thought it might mean an end to his flying days.

Gale returned to the skies in 1967 when he went to Vietnam.

"Our chief of staff said there's only two kinds of pilots: those that have been to Vietnam and those that are going," Gale said. "It was pretty obvious I was in line for that."

The 2013 induction ceremony brought the total number of Ohio Military Hall of Fame inductees to 238, four of whom were Medal of Honor recipients.

Four of this year's honorees were inducted posthumously.

The Hall of Fame was established to recognize Ohio servicemen and servicewomen who were decorated for heroism while in combat situations, said board President Ted Mosure.

"These are all people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty," Mosure said.

All inductees were born in Ohio or entered military service while living in the state.

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