A World War II fighter pilot from Eau Claire will be honored with a Flag of Remembrance in Superior. The flag raising ceremony for Robert Mittelstadt Sr. will take place at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in front of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Capt. Robert Allan Mittelstadt Sr. was born in Eau Claire on Sept. 8, 1919. At the beginning of the U.S. involvement in World War II, Mittelstadt volunteered for military service. As his desire was to become a fighter pilot, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet program in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 1942 at age 23.
After graduating from flight and tactics training, 2nd Lt. Mittelstadt was assigned to the 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group of the 5th Air Force, which was based in Gusap, Papua New Guinea.
Mittelstadt engaged in 132 combat missions, including 9 major battles, during his 453 combat hours over enemy territory. He is credited with the destruction of three Japanese aircraft and with being the first fighter pilot in the 5th Air Force to shoot down an enemy aircraft over the Japanese home islands.
Mittelstadt was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was presented to him by General George C. Kenney.
After the war, Mittelstadt was stationed in St. Paul as a military flight instructor, test pilot and information officer. He left the service in August 1950 and went on to fly as a bush pilot in Alaska for a short time before pursuing a career in engineering.
For the remainder of his career, Mittelstadt worked as an aero-electro-mechanical engineer, working primarily in new product design, research and development. He held 11 patents including a ski binding, the auger for Toro’s first two-stage snow thrower and the Avalanche roof rake, which is still in production.
Robert Mittelstadt died in 1996; his wife, Barbara Erblang, died in 2009. They are both laid to rest at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.
The program, sponsored by the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post 435, honors the life and memory of one deceased veteran every week by flying a flag over the Bong Center.
For more information about the Flag of Remembrance Program, contact Scott Markle, 218-269-4675 or the center, 715-392-7151, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.