Grumman F6F-5 Victory Sqd VS-1 1945
EDER, WILLARD ERNEST Captain, USN (Retired) He was born in 1916, in a one-room cabin in Buffalo, Wyoming, the son of Ernest O. and Bessie Eder. He grew up with the hardships and strong values of frontier Wyoming, typically riding five miles to the Buffalo school on a horse, and enduring many freezing winters working on the family sheep ranch.
In 1938, Bill graduated from the University of Wyoming with a commission in the Army. Looking toward the future, he traded this commission for entry into the Navy aviation program, attending Naval Flight School at Pensacola. Thus began his naval career in which he fought in both the European and the Pacific theaters, and served with distinction as an aviator in the F2A, Brewster Buffalo, F4F Wildcats and F6F Hellcats.
After completing flight training in Pensacola, Florida, Ensign Eder was assigned to VF-3 aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3), the USS Enterprise (CV-6), and USS Lexington (CV-2) assigned to VF-2 where he participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was subsequently transferred to the USS Santee (CVE-29), still flying F4F Wildcats but now in the Atlantic flying missions off Morocco to counter blockade runners with VGF-29 and VF-29.
Transferred back to the Pacific Theater, now Lieutenant Eder became commanding officer of VF-29 as well as Air Group Commander, and took the squadron, outfitted with Grumman F6F Hellcat's into the conflict aboard the Light Carrier USS Cabot (CVL-28) participating in the Battle of the Leyte Gulf and achieving Ace status by 1945 with six confirmed kills. Toward the end of the war he led the "Victory Squadron," an assemblage of 16 aircraft that toured the United States promoting War Bonds in 52 cities.
After the war Commander Eder served as a Line Officer as Executive Officer aboard the USS Henrico (APA-45), and subsequently taught Amphibious Warfare at The Marine Corps Schools in Quantico, Virginia. Captain Eder commanded two different Navy ships: the USS Tortuga (LSD-26) and the USS Tulare (AKA-112), and as Commander of Fleet Activities in Pusan, Korea. He retired at the age of 49 in 1965, as a Navy Captain with 26 years of Naval Service, and a Navy Fighter Ace with a Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit medal with combat "V," two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Air Medals, two Presidential Unit Citations and among many other unit awards.
Grumman F6F-5 "Victory Sqd." VS-3 1945-46
Lt. Comdr. W. E. Eder 1946 sitting in Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat VS-1
Navy Ace Lt. Comdr. W. E. Eder 1946
Grumman F6F-5 70546 Victory Sqd VS-3 1945-46