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World War II vet has homecoming with 912th Air Refueling Squadron

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- The 912th Air Refueling Squadron here welcomed back Sergeant Larry Stevens, a World War II veteran, and retired member of the squadron, to participate in their Commander's Call November 16, 2016.

Lt. Col. David Garon, commander of the 912th ARS, said to the Airmen attending the meeting that Sgt. Stevens was one of the founding and original members of the squadron, joining the fight in England on April 11, 1944 with the 412th Bombardment Squadron--the historical predecessor to the 912th ARS.

Stevens and his family came to March to visit his old squadron and give a question and answer session detailing his service in the war, which is detailed in his book, It Only Takes One: Memoirs of a Tail Gunner.

Stevens said that he flew 35 missions over enemy occupied Europe as a tail gunner of a B-17G Flying Fortress with 34 of the missions flown on his crew's bomber named Full House. While his crew was resting in Black Pool, England, waiting for their navigator and bombardier who bailed out over Russia due to a fire on the plane, Full House was shot down, he said.

"I am one of the lucky ones that finished a tour of duty and came back alive," Stevens said, "chances of survival were one in fiveā€¦ life was a flip of a coin."

He was awarded the Air Medal six times and also earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his tour of duty. The certificate from Steven's Air Medal certificates was displayed for the audience to view serving as a backdrop for him to present the Air Medal to current members of the squadron.

Stevens conferred the Air Medal to Capt. Derek Gottlieb, Capt. A.J. Kenna, Staff. Sgt. Jason Duckett, and Senior Airman Naim Love, he then presented the Air Force Commendation Medal to Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Bishop, Staff Sgt. Caleb L. Meyer, Staff. Sgt. Jennifer A. Willig.

Stevens was honored for his service and accomplishments with a 912th ARS challenge coin and a commemorative plaque showing his membership with the squadron as "April 11, 1944 to Present."

Garon said, "Once part of the unit, always part of the unit."