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Lonnie D. Wright 1919 to 2018

POSTED August 11, 2018 12:27 p.m.

Lonnie D. Wright 1919 to 2018

As one of the few remaining veterans of the “Greatest Generation” Lonnie wanted to reach 100 but was three weeks short of his 99th birthday when he was taken from us. He died peacefully surrounded by family at Hays Medical Center on August 10, 2018 from complications of a heart attack. Lonnie was born in Cuthan, TX on August 30, 1919 to Ira and Ona (Eaves) Wright. He grew up in Nebraska and graduated from North Platte High School in 1938. Enlisting in the US Army Air Corps in Jan 1940 he became an inflight engineer and aerial gunner on a B17 Flying Fortress. He was stationed at Hickham Field, Hawaii, and survived the Japanese attack of Dec 7, 1941 with a perforated eardrum from a near miss bomb blast. He was later assigned to the 19th Heavy Bomber Group’s famous 435th “Kangaroo Squadron” which flew bombardment and reconnaissance missions from air fields in Australia.
He was credited with downing several Japanese Zeros and was severely wounded in aerial combat over Papua, New Guinea and Guadacanal. His major decorations include Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with V for Valor, Purple Heart, Air Medal, and the Pearl Harbor Survivor Medal. He returned to the US in 1943 and was stationed in TX and FL before helping to establish and supervise the gunnery school for B29 bombers at the Great Bend, KS, Army Air Base in 1944. There he met and married Alberta (Bertie) Mary Fleske his wife of 73 years. After his discharge he began farming on the Fleske family farm near Albert, KS.
In 1950 he moved to Palmer, AK to try his hand at far north farming. Later he homesteaded near Big Lake outside of Wasilla, AK, where he build a log cabin, stocked the adjacent small lake with trout and supplemented the family stores with bear, moose and salmon. Finally the family moved to Anchorage, AK, where he eventually became manager of a logistic warehouse at Fort Richardson Army Base.
In 1960 the family moved back to take over the family farm near Albert, KS. There he raised wheat, alfalfa hay and cattle. He and Bertie also raised their two sons, Alvin and John. He was active in the DAV, the American Legion Argonne Post 180 and VFW Post 3111. He retired from active farming in 1995 and kept busy helping Bertie with gardening and doing the yard work necessary to keep the home looking good. They moved to Great Bend in 2012 and have enjoyed the close friendship of their neighbors.
He is survived by wife, Alberta; sons, Alvin (Cindy) and John (Pam) Wright; five grandchildren, Jennifer (Rob) Allen, David (Lenka) and Jeffrey (Erica) Wright, Amy (Mark) Arias and Jonathon Wright; and seven great-grandchildren, Tabitha and Naomi Wright, Jackson and Oliver Allen, Addison Abbey and Aspen and Kaiya Arias. Preceding him in death were brothers, James and Lynn; and sisters, Bertha Frederick and Lela Morris.
A celebration of life officiated by Rev John Grummon was held with family and close friends Saturday August 11, 2018. Memorial donations may be sent to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in care of Bryant Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent and notice viewed at

Funeral arrangements provided by
Bryant Funeral Home
1425 Patton Road
Great Bend, KS 67530
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Aug. 12, 2018

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