Ralph K. De Loach
Lieutenant Ralph K. De Loach, O-440981, was a native of St Petersburg, Florida. He joined the 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bomb Squadron as a co-pilot on Lieutenant Herbert Derr’s crew, usually flying B-17F "Tuffy" 41-24574. He flew his first mission with his own crew on June 10, 1943 in B-17F "The Mustang" 41-24554.
After the July 11, 1943 ditching of "Black Jack", he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. De Loach resumed flying on August 15, 1943 in B-17E 41-2665. He flew seven more B-17 missions before a final weather reconnaissance in "Tuffy" on September 6, 1943.
Returning to civilian life, Ralph continued to live larger than life: In 1956 he became part of one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history as a “Marlboro Man”, appearing nationwide in Time, LIFE, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker. He made movies in Mexico and spoke of flying in a Mi-25 Hind with Daniel Ortega as if it was an everyday occurrence.
De Loach died in California on September 22, 2007.