Tuesday Apr 21 2009
War hero memorialized decades after World War II
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
Frank Law, Bob Hansen and Frank Fujita remember Paul Mazal well. Mazal’s classmates and friends recounted the amazing story of the World War II hero at the Loomis Basin Historical Society meeting last week. Shortly after graduating from Placer High School in 1940, the Loomis resident joined the Army and become a pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps. 1st Lt. Mazal was sent overseas to serve in the European theater in July 1943. His final flight near the German/Belgian border on March 19, 1945, was a strafing run. The pilot of another plane right behind him reported seeing him flatten out and pull up his plane, but didn’t see him again. He also didn’t see the crash. 1st Lt. Paul W. Mazal, Service No. 0-763693, 513th Fighter Squadron, 406th Fighter Group, was declared Missing in Action. But the story of this World War II valiant warrior didn’t end there. On Sept. 4, 2005, Army Sgt. Danny Keay, an aviation archeaologist, and his team unearthed the P-47 Thunderbolt plane in a peat bog in area that was about to become a German highway. According to “High Flyer,” a newsletter from Beale Air Force Base, Keay found the plane with readable serial numbers and the well-preserved body of Lt. Mazal, still in his jacket, boots and parachute. Mazal’s body was extricated and sent to Hawaii where it was positively identified. On May 14, 2007, at a memorial ceremony for Lt. Mazal, a U.S. flag was presented to his cousin, Amalia Kiss Periera of Courtland. His country and fellow servicemen didn’t forget Paul Mazal, and neither did his friends. Law, Hansen, and Fujita remember that they played football together, that they rode the bus to Placer High in Auburn, went to the State Theater in Auburn to watch movies, and explored Folsom Lake and its mine shafts together. The recollections of these Loomis men – whether it be about a war hero or something as simple as where a home or building once stood – are priceless. Thank you to them all, to Lois and Barbara Leak, widow and daughter of Ed Leak, also a Mazal neighbor and classmate, and to Loomis Basin Historical Society president Beth Enright and all the society members for presenting this program. Whether you’re an “old timer” or new to the area, you, too, can hear these and other wonderful nuggets of Loomis area history simply by attending a historical society meeting. Meetings are on the third Wednesday of the month in the Jessie Helms Room of the Loomis Library. They’re open to the public and they’re free.