OCEAN CITY, NJ – Military life for Ronald J. “Rocky” Gannon began during his junior year in High School when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age 17. Rocky was born in Palermo and moved to Ocean City and attended Ocean City High School.
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Rocky left school to join the Air Corps, later called the Army Air Force, and became a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. While his classmates were graduating from high school, Rocky was graduating from pilot training school. By the time he was 20 he was flying the B-29 Super Flying Fortress. Rocky served in the Air Force for 37 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1980.
Freeholder Jeffrey L. Pierson presented “Rocky” with a Freeholder resolution to recognize his many accomplishments during his military career and his successful career in aviation after his retirement. “Rocky’s story is one of a true hero who dedicated his life to serving his country and pursuing his passion for aviation. He served during three wars and flew six-thousand hours in thirty-four different aircraft and earned 50 military awards and decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, ten Air Medals, four Meritorious Service Medals and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm”, Pierson said.
Gannon flew as a combat pilot in World War II, Korea, the Belgian Congo and 387 combat missions in Vietnam. After World War II, he served three years in the occupation of Iwo Jima and Japan. Fifteen of his thirty-seven years of active duty were served overseas.
While of the Ocean City Class of 1944 was preparing to graduate in the Music Pier on June 5 1944, Rocky was part of 25,000 American soldiers who were preparing for the D-Day invasion.
“Ironically, Rocky never received his high school diploma until November 2003, 62 years after he left his Ocean City classmates behind to serve his country. While in the service he earned his BS and Masters Degree. It was a great honor to represent the Board of Chosen Freeholders and present “Rocky” with a formal resolution recognizing his achievements and to personally thank him for his service”, Pierson added.
Rocky has been active in the Boys Scouts for 80 years and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He has been married to Roberta Guase for 68 years. They have three children, ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren. There were 12 people attending the reunion luncheon and seven were classmates.