|Senior Class photo of Jack Bade, 1938.
When I first arrived in Sherburne County I began to explore the history of the county through biography. I was developing my list of “profiles in courage” in Sherburne county, a type of historical/biographical exploration. Recently I was directed to the life of one man in Sherburne County that most assuredly should be on a list of “profiles in courage:”
Jack A. Bade was born in 1920 in Minneapolis. His family moved to Elk River when he was still an infant. He grew up in Elk River. In high school he played football and basketball, and had the lead in the school play, Robin Hood. After he graduated in 1938, he attended the University of Minnesota majoring in engineering. For a time he worked at Honeywell Corporation before enlisting in the Army Air Corps.
He received his commission and flight wings at Luke Airfield on July 26, 1942. He then joined the 44th fighter squadron of the 18th Fighter group in the Pacific theater in December.
During his service in the Pacific theater in 1943, he earned the unique title of flying ace. From January through September of 1943 Lt. Jack Bade was credited with destroying 5 enemy aircraft with one more probable. Lt. Bade earned a Distinguished Service Cross for heroism on 13 February 1943. In the citation Bade is credited with heroism while piloting a P-40 fighter to protect bombers from Japanese Zeros. At one point, the citation notes, “Undeterred by complete lack of fire power and suffering great pain, he put his damaged plane through a series of headlong passes with such formidable aggressiveness that the Japanese airmen broke off their fight and fled.” He was reassigned to the home front in September of 1943. For the remainder of the war he served as a flight instructor. At the end of the conflict he worked as a test pilot for Republic Aviation. He was killed in a test flight on May 2, 1963.
World War II clearly brought out courage and the best in many men and women from Sherburne County, if not throughout the United States. Jack Bade is just one example of these men and women referred to as “the greatest generation” and certainly warrant attention on any list of “profiles in courage.”