Arizona Wing Commander Col. Martha Morris today announced the death of long-time Arizona Wing member Lt. Col. Arthur Weisberger, 87. “Lt. Col. Weisberger was a pilot, observer and airborne photographer for us, excelling in each,” Col. Morris said in the announcement. “He was quite a character and full of stories. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
At the 2018 Arizona Wing Conference, Weisberger received the Congressional Gold Medal based on his service during World War II. He grew up in Tucson and joined the Civil Air Patrol in June 1944, at the age of 13. Squadron meetings were held at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, so Cadet Weisberger had to hitchhike the 14 miles from Tucson to Davis-Monthan.
In 1945, a lieutenant from the U.S. Army Air Force came to one of the squadron’s meetings and explained that they needed help disarming and overhauling the .50-caliber machine guns on all of the aircraft returning from Europe and Asia. He asked if any of the cadets would be interested in helping and explained that they would first have to go through Aerial Gunnery School.
Weisberger volunteered along with six other cadets. They joined 19
Army Air Force members in learning how to disassemble and reassemble the .50-caliber machine guns; how to lead a target on the shotgun range; and finally, flying in a B-17 and shooting at a target at 17,000 feet. Weisberger said that somehow he managed to get enough hits to qualify as an Aerial Gunner and he proudly wore the badge on his CAP Cadet uniform.
On his 17th birthday, Weisberger enlisted in the Marine Corps and proudly served for 15 years. He was unable to complete the 20 years of service he hoped for due to his health: He suffered combat hearing loss, four gunshot wounds, five shrapnel hits, and a Samurai sword slash on his left leg.
Weisberger became the Medical Photographer at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn where he retired after 26 years in the New York City Police Department.
While in New York, he again became active in the Civil Air Patrol since he had been paying his dues throughout the years. He became the Air Inspector and the Search and Rescue leader in Group One.
After retirement, he returned to his beloved Arizona. He transferred to Sierra Vista Squadron 104 and, for five years, taught both Level One and the Aerospace Education program. He said he became obsolete when the programs were computerized.
Additional information about funeral or memorial service arrangements will be posted when it becomes available.