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The Stachler Brother's Big Day

WARBIRD RADIO - Today it's hard to imagine not being able to communicate with your family, especially your brother. Even in times of war, a text message or instant message can get through to a deployed loved one, but that wasn't the case during WWII.

Herb and Walt Stachler were brothers, both of whom served in the WWII. Herb was a P-47 pilot in Europe, and Walt was a B-25 gunner serving in Burma. Because communication was nearly impossible in their situation, neither brother knew if the other had survived the war until it ended. Their story of survival, their bond of brotherhood, and their undying love of country, is what makes their story so incredible.

In 2012, Warbird Radio organized a surprise for Herb and Walt to commemorate their service. Back then, the Texas Flying Legends Museum was operating a collection of airplanes, and Warren Pietsch helped us arrange a flight for Herb and Walt. We couldn't find a P-47 to fly Herb in, so a P-51 had to stand in. Listening to Herb grouse about how "inferior" the Mustang was to his beloved P-47 was one of our favorite moments!

Looking back on this story, the images and people involved stand out. Photographer Robert Seale captured the moments with his stunning portrait work (as seen on 200 covers including Sports Illustrated and Air & Space). Long-time friend of Warbird Radio, and tireless supporter of WWII history, Larry Kelley, generously provided his B-25 Panchito as a photo-ship to capture the incredible air-to-air. The late Bob Odegaard was flying the A6M Zero, weaving around giving Walt something to shoot at, and his son Casey flew the P-51 with Herb in the backseat.

According to the Soldier Project, about .072% of the US population have served in the military. It's hard to believe so few have served, but that's the reason so many are willing to get involved and say thank you. At the time, Walt was suffering from memory issues, but as soon as he crawled into the B-25, it call came back. Long time friend of the Stachler brothers, and co-host of The Hartman & Heins Show here on Warbird Radio, Andy Heins escorted Walt on his B-25 flight. "It was truly a special moment for everyone involved. Looking back, I'm so happy we could pull it off! I'll never forget during the run-up, I glanced over at Walt and he was clearly back in the 1944." Says Heins.

[Andy Heins and Walt Stachler flying in the B-25]

[The late Bob Odegaard, moving in to give Walt a closer look.]

[Walt giving Herb a wave in the P-51]

Too everyone who help with the making of this story, a heartfelt thank you from all of us at Warbird Radio. These stories matter, and soon they'll be all that's left. So thank you for making this happen, and preserving their history.

[Herb waiving back to Walt in the B-25]

[Herb & Walt during WWII]

[Herb & Walt Stachler before their surprise flight]

[Close ups of Herb's jacket]

[Close ups of Herb's jacket]

[Close ups of Herb's jacket]

[Walt by the rear gun position on the B-25]

[Herb asking Casey if he was going to need to sit on his lap. Ha!]

[The Stachler Brothers and the setting sun]

"Herb and Walt both passed away not long after this story was complete. Getting to know both of them was truly a treasured memory, and I'm so thankful we could pull this off. THIS is why Warbird Radio is around." Says Warbird Radio founder, Matt Jolley.

Take a listen to this special episode of Warbird Radio Presents - The Stachler Brother's Big Day, and relive this wonderful moment! Help keep this history alive by liking, subscribing and following our podcast feed. If you'd really like to help out, please consider sharing us with a friend.

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