George T Gant-A Lifetime of Service
Updated: Feb 19
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During World War II, more than 16 million American men and women served in the armed forces. In total, over 405,000 paid the ultimate price with their lives. In the Army Air Corps, the length of combat duty was determined by the number of missions you had to fly. The magic number was 25. My father, who was the RBC tail gunner, always told this story about the crew’s return to base at the end of their last mission. He said he radioed the control tower and told them that as a celebration he was going to parachute out of his B17 before it landed. As you might imagine, the control tower radioed back in no uncertain terms: “No, Sgt. Neff; unless you would like to fly another 25 missions, you will not be parachuting out.” My father wisely opted for ending this part of his military career sooner rather than later.
For RBC waist gunner George T. Gant, fighting in WW2 was only the beginning of his lifetime of commitment to his country. The youngest of three sons, he graduated from high school and, at the age of 19, enlisted in the Air Corps at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. After completing his 25 missions, he wrote to relatives that he wanted to “get in on the invasion of Europe or, if that is out, get a crack at the Japanese in the South Pacific.”
After Japan, the family traveled to several different air force bases. Mr. Gant spent 30 years in the military and retired a Lt. Colonel. He then continued his public service by working for the State of Tennessee as well as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
In the picture to the right, Lieutenant
Colonel Gant is receiving the Air Force
Commendation Medal, awarded for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious achievement or service.