Ceremony Honors Woman Pilot, Korean War Vet — This month’s Casket Flag Ceremony at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial is 6 p..m., Sunday, May 8. It will honor a young woman pilot from Radnor who died in a World War II plane crash and a father of eight from Lansdowne who served in the Korean War.
The ceremonies are being held the second Sunday of the month through November at the Memorial, 4599 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, Pa. 19073, notes Barbara Ann Zippi of the Casket Flag Committee.
Mary Holmes Howson graduated from Radnor High School and joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1943. She was killed in a mid-air collision in Sweetwater Texas on April 16, 1944.
Mary was born Feb. 16, 1919. She was the daughter of Richard and Mary Howson and had three brothers, two of whom would also serve in the military.
She attended private school in Devon for middle school, then Radnor High School graduating in 1936. She then attended Smith college, and took on a teaching job at the Oak Lane Country Day School. In 1942-1943 she learned map-making from aerial photographs in classes at Bryn Mawr College. She then started working for the U.S. Geological Survey Office in Washington, D.C. and spent every spare moment learning navigation and practiced flying at a nearby field before joining the service.
She is buried in the cemetery of Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge National Historical Park. John Corry, a friend of Mary’s from Radnor High remembers her as, “an outdoors type of girl with a daredevil spirit.”
Torpey White was born in March 1930 in Philadelphia and graduated in 1948 from West Catholic High School. He enlisted in the US Army in 1952. He served in Korea and the reserves and was honorable discharged with the rank of Sargent in 1960. He obtained a degree in industrial management from LaSalle College and also became a master plumber. He retired in 1993.
He married Mary Ellen (Rogers) then settled in Lansdowne and raised five children. He had an incredible sense of humor and loved making people laugh. He was active with his family, church and helping those in need of his skills. He passed away in January 2014.
The public is welcome to attend the ceremony.
Reservations are being taken for July and August for those wanting a ceremony for a loved one. Send a request to: info@DelcoVeteransMemorial.com.
Ceremony Honors Woman Pilot, Korean War Vet