Army Air Forces Veteran Frank Wendzel is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Frank Wendzel, who flew B-17s during World War II and turns 100 years old June 14.

Frank Wendzel originally hails from Kleenburn, Wyoming. In 1941, he left to join the Army Air Forces to fly B-17s.

From 1941-1946, Wendzel served at a variety of locations throughout the U.S. These included San Diego, California; Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, Robins Field, Georgia; Wright Field, Ohio, Fort Sheridan, Illinois; and Clovis, New Mexico.

While serving overseas, Wendzel flew in Enewetak and Kwajalein Atolls. He was a part of Operation Crossroads, a pair of nuclear weapons tests in Bikini Atoll in 1946. Wendzel took part in the Baker test July 25. According to the Department of Energy, the Baker test yielded explosions equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, detonating 90 feet underwater and wreaking havoc on a 74-vessel fleet of empty ships.

During his service, Wendzel received an American Campaign Medal, a European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal, a World War II Victory Medal and Overseas Service Bars.

He left the Army Air Forces in 1946 as a captain. Following his military service, he worked on Project Mercury, NASA’s first man-in-space program. The program made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963 with specific objectives:

  • Orbiting a manned spacecraft around Earth
  • Investigating man’s ability to function in space
  • Recovering both man and spacecraft safely

Wendzel now lives in Freedom Village Retirement Community in Lake Forest, California. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has only seen family through glass. Wendzel celebrates his 100th birthday June 14.

Thank you for your service!

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

By Air Force Veteran Adam Stump is a member of VA's Digital Media Engagement team.

Share this story

Published on Jun. 13, 2020

Estimated reading time is 1.7 min.

Views to date: 161


  1. Senior Veterans Care Network June 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you for your service Frank Wendzel.

  2. Thaddeus Cummins June 13, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    “We need more air power!” Billy Mitchell. Thanks friend.

  3. Daniel L Kibbee June 13, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    Happy Birthday Capt. Wendzel
    You sure seen some things. Please take care.
    Sincerely. A Sailor..

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Stephen W. Pless, who served in the Vietnam War and is the only Marine aviator to be awarded a Medal of Honor during the war.

  • Alan Shepard served in the Navy aboard a destroyer and as a test pilot. He was a member of the NASA Mercury Seven and became the first American to travel into space.

  • Army Veteran Charles W. Whittlesey is a Medal of Honor Recipient and is today’s Veteran of the Day.