Andrew C. Lacy

Colonel Andrew C. Lacy, a son of two Hungarian immigrants and a long time resident of Ohio, was born in Elyria, Ohio April 30, 1921.  He graduated from Nova High School in 1939 and attended Ashland College for two years before enlisting in the United States Army Air Corp as an Aviation Cadet. Before departing for his overseas assignment he married a lifelong family friend, Mary E. Ballas.

Colonel Lacy began his military career in the United States Army Air Corps’ Aviation Cadet Program in 1942.  He graduated from pilot training, Class 44B, in 1944.  He received his commission as a second lieutenant and the coveted wings of an army aviator in February of 1944. He served overseas in the European Theater of Operations with the 334th Squadron, 4th Fighter Group flying combat missions in P-51s from Debden, England, until shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire on February 21, 1945.

On this cold February day, Lacy was part of a mission comprised of forty-eight P-51 fighters escorting an assigned box of B-17 and B-24 bombers through flak infested skies to the Nurnberg, Germany target area.  The fighters escorted the bombers to and from the target safely, and then returned to Germany to seek additional Targets of Opportunity.  At this point in the war, opposition by German fighters was almost non-existent.

While searching for targets in the German countryside, Lacy spotted a train hidden on the tracks in a heavily wooded area. Realizing it was a freight train and not a passenger train, Lacy decided to attack. After dropping his external fuel tanks on the train (for the tailing fighters to set ablaze), he felt something slam into the underside of his aircraft.  Almost immediately his cockpit filled with smoke, and he had lost all oil pressure.  He knew the engine would not be operating for very long, and his two wingmen confirmed he was leaking gas and smoke in large quantities.

Soon fire began appearing alongside his engine cowling, and smoke was so dense, he could barely see the instruments. After his second attempt at a bail, Lacy was free of his aircraft, and tried to land near a grove of trees to act as his sanctuary.  When he hit the ground, he sprained both ankles, and as he started to move for safety, it didn’t take long for him to realize he was being fired at by enemy troops.  After analyzing his situation, he states, “I decided the best course of action was for me to surrender…what an inglorious ending for a Sierra Hotel fighter pilot!”

Lacy’s flying career spanned over three decades.  He flew over twenty-five military and civilian aircraft, and logged over 6500 hours of flying time, mostly in fighters.  Colonel Lacy flew fifty combat missions over Europe and three over the jungles of South Vietnam.

His many military decorations included: U.S. Air Medal with three Oak leaf clusters, AF Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Prisoner of War Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, American Campaign Medal, Ohio Distinguished Service Award, AF Reserve Meritorious Service Award, European Theater of Operations Award, Vietnam Service Award and many others for his long and dedicated service to his country.

Colonel Lacy is a widower, his wife having succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2004, just five months short of their 60th wedding anniversary.  Together, they had three children, and six grandchildren.  Lacy currently resides in Enon, Ohio and serves as the National Secretary/Treasurer of the Association of the 4th Fighter Group, an organization of veterans who served honorably with the 4th overseas during World War II.