After a flight, recently, in a Corsair F4U once flown by Ferril Purdy, his daughter Gayla Maier said to him, after jumping from the plane, “that gives me a respect, Dad, big time, for you.”
She had a taste of the experience her father, Ferril Purdy, faced many times. He often had to speed up while navigating at high speed because he was being targeted by Japanese forces in the Pacific during World War II.
Purdy was recently reunited with the airplane he last flew in 1944 thanks to author Michele Spry who became close to Purdy while writing about his wartime years as a fighter pilot. She spent seven weeks raising funds to finance the Corsair’s flight from Chino, California, where the plane wound up in a museum, to Columbia, Missouri, a 1,700-mile trip.
Because of his age and health, Purdy was unable to take a ride, but that was all right with him. After thousands of hours of flying, he said he has had sufficient time in the air.
Purdy explained he couldn’t tell about the ride in the deadly fighter because he was busy concentrating on the target, asking himself what to do when he arrives, was the Corsair in a condition to complete its tasks, was there enough ammunition, and was there enough gas to return.
Purdy has inspired Spry to pen a second children’s book, A Trip to Remember, a fictional story following an older veteran and a young lad on a “hero tour” to Washington, D.C. that bears some resemblance to the Central Missouri Honor Flight.
She and Purdy became friends after they first met in August 2014, when she noticed him sporting a hat that said ‘Corsair F4U.’ She inquired if he was a veteran and that led to the reunion of not only the plane but Purdy’s wartime wingman who also received medals in recognition of his wartime injuries.
Spry now visits Purdy once a week, and nearly always, she said, he turns on the lamp that sparked luck.
Purdy, awarded with five air medals, is awaiting word on whether he will also receive a Purple Heart, or possibly two. During his first tour, enemy fire struck his oil cooler, and all the oil drained, forcing him to land in the Marshall Islands off the Island of Wotje. In his second tour, a Japanese attack left shrapnel in his face, legs, and arm, Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
A volunteer with Planes of Fame, Cory O’Bryan, who flew to Columbia in the fighter, said the museum in Chino spent many years determining if the plane had witnessed combat, he explained. This plane is a member of the family to them.
Purdy enlisted the day after Pearl Harbour was attacked. He first flew the Corsair, once armed with bombs and machine guns, on June 24, 1944.