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15 January 2015

Colonel Nathan Herschel Mazer


Over the past many months we have been remembering the beginning of World War I. A big part of that is paying tribute to those who risked so much to protect those they never knew. In my own family I have very few examples of those who served during that war. One, my father's step-brother, died in battle off the coast of Constantinople.
Maybe it is because of having so few examples in my own family, but I often find myself looking for these great people in every cemetery I visit. Often, I am surprised by what I can find in unexpected places. Recently, on a visit from my grandson, we decided to visit the Hill Air Force Base Museum in Ogden, Utah (www.hill.af.mil/library/museum/). I must admit that I had never been there before even though it is less than a 10 minute drive from my home. It was there that I was made aware of a great man, Colonel Nathan Herschel Mazer, whose picture is shown here.
He was born on 11 March 1911 in Philadelphia to Harry and Fanny Mazer. His parents, both born in Russia, made their living by keeping a grocery store. The image below is the family in the 1920 United States Census.


On 5 March 1935, he married Frances Kalmanovitz in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She herself, was born in Russia. On 26 July 1941 he was inducted into the Army, and that service was then extended indefinitely by the attack on Pearl Harbor. he served in the 13th Bomb Group, flying 50 missions as a bombardier over the North Atlantic between February and August of 1942. At that point he was commissioned as an officer and ordered to the 8th Air Force's 384th Bomb Group in England.
During his time in England he flew many combat missions over Europe as the lead tail gunner. While he was authorized to be on many of these missions, there were some he was not. This lead his commander, Maj. General Dale O. Smith to comment, "He never got caught flying, he was the greatest stowaway in the history of the 8th Air Force". In August of 1944 he was promoted to Captain and in November of 1945 he was discharged. He was recalled into the Air Force in June of 1946 and served honorably until finally retiring as a Colonel in June of 1964. Col. Mazer was recognized for his service and received many medals, including the Bronze Star for Valor.
It is often said that behind any great man you will find a great woman,
and this is certainly the case with Col. Mazer. His lovely bride Frances was no doubt concerned for her husband, but instead of staying home and worrying, she herself did something I consider heroic, she joined the Women's Army Corp in 1943.
Col. Mazer served his country all over the world and earned the right to enjoy a nice quiet retirement. However, not one to sit and watch, he, with his wife at his side, spent his retirement serving the Air Force and the State of Utah. In addition to serving as a Director of many groups he was the driving force behind the Hill Air Force Base Museum. His efforts both during the war and after leave us all with an incredible example to service and commitment.

Col. Mazer died in 2006, just over 6 years after his wife. In honor of their service to the country, they both have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in Washington D.C.  (http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/).  

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