Team MacDill celebrates local World War II veteran’s 100th birthday

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  • By 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Team MacDill service members along with the local community celebrated a World War II veteran’s 100th birthday during a drive by parade at North Shore Park Jan. 16, 2021.

Henry Sayler, a 1943 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, decorated fighter pilot and respected statesman, friend of Charles Lindbergh and six United States Presidents, turned 100 years old on Saturday.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jennifer Lindberg, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, who is a direct descendant of the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, along with other MacDill service members, presented a letter of appreciation from Col. Benjamin Jonsson, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, honoring Sayler’s service to our nation and his centennial birthday.

Sayler, a U.S. Army Air Forces pilot, flew over Normandy on D-Day and completed 68 combat missions over the European Theater during World War II, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven air medals. 

Flying in their distinctive P-38 Lightning fighters, he and his wingmen flew escort for the bombers dropping ordnance on the beaches of Normandy, keeping German Luftwaffe fighters off the bombers long enough for them to deliver their payloads.

After completion of his 68th combat mission, he was assigned to General Eisenhower’s staff in Europe. Later he was selected as a White House aide under President Harry Truman from 1945-1947, served on the staffs of renowned generals Vandenberg and Norstad, flew a B-25 Mitchell bomber with Jimmie Doolittle on several occasions and worked with famed aviator Charles Lindbergh.

One of his favorite memories was having dinner with “Lindy” at a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Henry has a 3-page, handwritten letter from Lindbergh in his collection of hundreds of personal letters, cards and photos from presidents and other renowned people. He was friends to Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, Nixon and George Herbert Walker Bush.