Research Credit: Jack and Jim Sturdy

Earl Harry Sturdy

      Survived by sons Jack and Jim, their wives Cheryl and Suzie, Grandson Jimmy and his wife Sheena, and great grandchildren Alissa, Angie and Chad

Earl H. Sturdy was on a ground crew at Snetterton Heath.  He is one of six members of the immediate Sturdy family who have served their country beginning in World War 1 and continuing in the Middle East. This page is dedicated to the entire family who have given us their best during the worst of times, and I would like to publicly thank all of them for helping keep us safe. I especially appreciate the guidance and patience of Jack and Jim Sturdy (Earl's sons) and their wives Cheryl and Suzie in the creation of this page.

World War 1: John Sturdy was an MP (military police) in the US Army in France. His wife was named Elva, and he had two sons. He died in Oklahoma in 1963 at the age of 68.

World War 2: Bill and Earl Sturdy (John's two sons) join the military. 

Bill was born in 1923 in Mercer, Pennsylvania and never married. While serving as a radio operator in the Pacific, he contracted malaria. He fought the disease his entire life, but it finally killed him in 1999 at the age of 79. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

William (Bill) Sturdy

Earl Sturdy

Earl was born in 1920 in Sharon, Pennsylvania and enlisted in the Army in 1942 at the age of 21. During WW2, he served as the crew chief on a ground crew at Snetterton-Heath in the English countryside. He was slender and had black hair. He was an excellent crew chief and very conscientious about the work he was responsible for. For example, he always double-checked everything the mechanics did (such as filling fluids, etc.). He also cared deeply about the crews flying the airplanes he serviced: he would stand at the end of the runway when the B17's returned to see who made it back and what condition the planes were in. He also added additional armor plate in crew positions to help protect them from flak but then had to remove it because it reduced bomb payload weight limits. One time, Earl tried to help a German fighter pilot who had crashed in an English field. When he approached him, the German told him, "Don't touch me you English swine."

Earl always emphasized strict blackout protocols since German fighters would blast any light they saw. One time when Earl went on a bombing run during the London blackouts he noticed a light shining out of a kitchen galley; a German fighter saw the crack and blasted the place.

After the war in Europe ended, Earl returned to Pocatello, Idaho where he was temporarily stationed for training prior to his overseas deployment. One night he was out having a good time when he met a girl named Flora Mae Crotts. He ended up marrying her on September 29, 1945. After that, Earl was activated by the Navy reserves (see picture right) and sent to the Philippines. Upon his return from the Philippines, Earl went to work at the Naval Ordinance Gun Plant in Pocatello. He worked there on huge guns for American ships, happily married to Flora Mae and with his two sons Jack and Jim. The gun plant closed in 1959, and Earl transferred to the Naval Ordinance Test Station at China Lake, California where he worked as the supervisor of the machine shop. He retired in 1974 after 33 years of civil service. Earl and Flora Mae were married for 54 years and last resided in Ridgecrest, California. Flora Mae died in 2000 and Earl followed in 2006.

Earl and wife Flora Mae 

Earl (left) and Bill (right)

Taken in 1970 at the funeral 

of Bill and Earl's mother Elva

Viet Nam: Jack and Jim, Earl's sons, join the military.

Jack served in the 101st Airborne, 1/506 infantry (1968-69) in Viet Nam. He received the Bronze Star with a "V" (for valor) for his actions on Hamburger Hill. Jim served in the 101st Airborne, also in Viet Nam, and was a radio telephone operator with the 2/17th Air Cavalry (1969-1970).  

Left to Right: Jim, Flora Mae, Earl, Jack, and Jimmy (Jack's son) 

Jack (front) with the family on Thanksgiving 1968 (Jim is in back)

Jim at Christmas 1970, back from Viet Nam.

A note about the two pictures above. Notice that on the Thanksgiving photo left, Jim is in the back in street clothes, but months later, he's in uniform. At that time, there was a rule that two brothers could not be in Viet Nam at the same time. Jim wanted to get Jack out of Viet Nam because he thought Jack had had enough considering everything Jack had been through there; clearly, Jim went to Viet Nam so that he could serve his country but also so Jack could come home.         

Author's Note: I have worked with and told the stories of many military families during the building of this website. Their dedication to their service, their family, and their country never ceases to amaze me.

4 Generations of Sturdy Military Service

Military service runs in the family: 

 

WW1 - John Sturdy was an MP in the Army in France .

 

WW2 - Earl and Bill, John's two sons, served in WW2. Earl was a B-17 ground crew chief in Europe, and Bill was an Army radio telephone operator in the Pacific theatre.

 

Viet Nam - Jack and Jim, Earl's two sons, both served in the 101st Airborne in Viet Nam.

Mideast - Jack's son Jimmy served as a paratrooper in the Army's 82nd Airborne. He did six tours of duty in different areas of the middle east and has dedicated 20 years of his life to military service.