Decorated World War II Hero And Civic Leader Remembered - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/01/07- Palestine

Decorated World War II Hero And Civic Leader Remembered

"More than anything he was inspiration, but he was a good man. He loved his family, loved his kids."

Jean Mollard remembers her great love and husband of 35 years. A man who grew up in Palestine before flying off to battle as a navy pilot in World War II. Mollard shot down six enemy planes in his service, earning the title of "Flying Ace." He too was shot down several times, but amazingly survived.

"He landed in the ocean and spent three days in the water off the coast of Japan," said Jean Mollard.  "Then to be picked up finally. He was so afraid it was a Japanese ship but it wasn't. They saved him, threw him on deck and took him downstairs, then in 24 hours he was in the cockpit of another plane flying."

After returning home, Mollard would be recalled to active duty two more times. In the late 1950's he was an astronaut candidate for the Mercury Space Program. Yet above all his accomplishments, he is remembered for his devotion to his family and hometown of Palestine.

"The different types of people from all walks of life that are coming up to me, it's just amazing," said Jean.  "People I didn't even think he knew."

"He is a leader, was a leader and helped preserve so much of Palestine," said Audrey Tatum, longtime family friend.

Up until his dying day Mollard was hard at work, restoring historic buildings and inspiring others to get involved.

"He never accepted "No," said Jean Mollard.  "He would go to City Hall to get whatever he wanted. He would encourage people to just do whatever you can do and he left me with that legacy that you can do anything."

A legacy of honor, bravery, and love that will have a lasting impact on Palestine and his family. 

"It's been a great love story," said Jean.  "He was a good man and he taught me a lot and I'm going to miss him."

Courtney Lane, Reporting  

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