Lt. Col. Gerald 'Jerry' F. Coleman - Pilot
VMSB-341, VMA-251, VMF-323
A Distinguished Veteran
|Lt. Colonel Jerry Coleman was born on September 14, 1924 in San Jose, California. He joined the United States Marine Corps and began his military career on October 23, 1942, as a naval aviation cadet in the V-5 program in San Francisco, California. After going through pilot training in Colorado, Texas, and North Carolina, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He received his wings of gold, signifying he was a naval aviator, on April 1, 1944 at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas. He was assigned to Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, where he was trained to fly the Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber. He was briefly stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and then was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California. He then boarded a troop ship and was sent to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands as a replacement pilot.|
|He arrived at Guadalcanal in August, 1944, and was assigned to VMSB-341, known as "The Torrid Turtles". He flew 57 combat missions, flying close air support, which VMSB-341 was the first squadron in the Marine Corps specifically designated to do, and flew missions in the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. In July, 1945, his squadron, along with other Marine Corps squadrons, were called back from the Pacific to form carrier-based squadrons in anticipation of the amphibious assault on Japan. With the sudden ending of the war in the Pacific, he remained stationed at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. In January, 1946 he was transferred from active duty to the inactive reserve list, and resumed his baseball career, playing second base for the famous New York Yankees.|
|The Greatest Dynasty in Baseball|
|In 1949, Jerry Coleman became a member of the New York Yankees. He played second base, and was awarded Rookie of the Year with a batting average of .275, 2 home runs, and 42 runs batted in. The following season, he was an American League All-Star, and was the Most Valuable Player in the 1950 World Series, when the Yankees swept the Philadelphia Phillies in four games. He played in six World Series, winning four World Series with the New York Yankees. He was one of the best defensive second basemen of all time, having committed only 89 errors in 3,168 fielding opportunities, and turned 532 double plays. He played in 402 games before the 1952 season. He was called up for active duty in the Korean War. After finishing his combat tour in Korea, he rejoined the Yankees and played in 321 games. He retired from playing baseball in 1957, and has a .263 lifetime batting average with 16 home runs.|
After retiring from baseball, Lt. Colonel Coleman began his distinguished career as a sports announcer with the New York Yankees (1963 - 1969), the California Angels (1970 - 1971), CBS Radio's Network Game of the Week (22 seasons), and he currently is the radio voice of the San Diego Padres baseball team (1972 - 1979, 1981 - present). He is famous for his phrase, "Oh doctor, you can hang a star on that baby!" In 1980, he left the radio booth to manage the San Diego Padres for one season, and returned back to the booth, continuing his long association with the Padres, which includes working with many charitable events. He was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame in 2001. On February 22, 2005, he was named the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence and will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, Lt. Colonel Coleman was recalled to active duty, and was sent to Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California, for training in the Vought F4U Corsair (specifications). He was assigned to VMF-323, also known as the "Death Rattlers", and flew 63 combat missions in the F4U and AU1 Corsair. This included close air support and interdiction / strike missions. He was then assigned duties as a forward air controller. He was transferred back to the United States in August, 1953, and was again placed on the reserve list. Later that month, he was back playing second base for the New York Yankees. That same year, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve unit in New York, where he did promotional work for the Marine Corps until he retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1964. He served three years in World War II and two years in Korea, and he is the only major league player to see combat in two wars.
Lt. Colonel Coleman flew a total of 120 combat missions in World War II and the Korean War. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals, and three Navy Citations.
|Jerry Colemen is one of our Rogue's Gallery members.|
|(Thanks are due Col. Coleman for providing photos and stories)|
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