The Warrior Flight Team Pays
Its Respects to a Hero
Colonel William Stanley Hurley, Jr. was born in Erie, PA in 1921 and
graduated from Strong – Vincent High School 1940. He attended
the University of Pittsburgh, Erie Center, from 1940 to 1942. During
these years, many people played a role in his desire to fly. His math
professor in college had been a fighter pilot in WW I and a few of his
high school friends had older brothers who were in the Army Air Corps.
One of these men was Joe Cochran brother of Philip Cochran, famous
as head of the Burma Invasion, and Terry and The Pirates. His desire
to be a fighter pilot was well established when the Japanese hit Pearl
On May 8, 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was called up
in Aug. 1942 and entered the class of 43-I at Souther Field, Americus, GA.
While there he soloed exactly 20 years after Charles Lindberg soloed at
the same field. After basic flight training at Gunter Field, AL and advanced
in Marianna Field, FL he graduated as a 2nd Lt. The next stop was P-47
Thunderbolt training at Richmond VA. Col Hurley shipped out in early
1944 on the Queen Elizabeth. He was given a choice of the 8th or 9th Air Force. He 8th was selected because, as he said, “They were living in castles and the 9th was living in tents”. He was assigned to the 356th Fighter Group, 361st Squadron at Martelsham-Heath Air Base in Ipswich England, which was a Royal Air Force Base.
As a member of the 361st squadron, Col Hurley flew 86 combat missions, amassing 320 combat hours from May 1944 until February. 1945. Of those combat hours, 270 were in the P-47 and 50 hours were in the P-51 Mustang, which the squadron began to fly in November 1944. About this time he was offered a promotion to Captain if he took a 50 hour extension to his tour. He accepted and was promoted to Captain Dec. 27, 1944.
For his service in World War II, Colonel William S. Hurley, Jr. was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters, The European-African-Middle Eastern Theatre Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, & The American Campaign Medal. During his combat tours, he participated in the following Campaigns: European Air Offensive, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, and Rhineland. The 356th Fighter Group was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for the Ardennes Campaign. Furthermore, Colonel Hurley is credited with 3 ½ enemy aircraft destroyed. After returning to the USA he became a member of an Air Exhibition Team flying P51’s. Air shows were performed along the East Coast from Maine to Mexico City.
Colonel Hurley’s first assignment once returning to the United States was to Jet School at Williams AFB where he was a member of the first class to fly the P-80 Shooting Star. Upon completion of Jet School he was assigned to the 1st. Fighter Group, 71st Squadron at March Field, CA. This group was the first Jet Fighter Group in the Army Air Corps.
While at March Field Colonel Hurley has the opportunity to participate in the first mass movement of jet aircraft in history. His Group flew from March AFB, CA to Andrews AFB, MD and back, setting the stage for the US Air Force’s entry into the jet age. Later, in the spring of 1947, he had the honor of taking delivery of a new P-80 at the factory in Burbank, CA and delivered it to Wright Patterson AFB, OH.
On July 3, 1947 he was promoted to Major and resigned from the United States Air Force to return to College. He graduated from the University of Pittsburg with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Major. He worked for many architects and became an engineering consultant. He had his own consulting office in Cleveland, OH for many years. He continued to serve his nation in the Air Force Reserve and had a mobilization assignment as the Director of Research and Development at Wright Patterson AFB. He retired as a Colonel in the USAF Reserve in 1986.
He married the late Mary Patricia McHugh in 1954 and they spent their honeymoon in Cuba. They lived in OH, IN, NY, VA and retired in Virginia Beach where they lived since 1984. They loved to travel extensively over the past 30 years, from Ireland to Greece to China to name a few.
Colonel William S. Hurley, Jr. is survived by 5 children: Suzanne Hurley-Zarus, William Hurley, III, James Hurley, Thomas Hurley and Sally Hurley. He is also survived by six grandchildren (Tara, Devin, Erin, Katy, Yuri and Eli) and Lucy, their beloved dog.