Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Jack L. Springer who worked as a link trainer instructor during World War II.
Originally from the Bronx, New York City, Jack L. Springer had entered City College in 1940 intending to study veterinarian medicine. However, in August 1942, the Army drafted him and sent him to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for basic training with the Army Air Forces. One of Springer’s superiors at basic training noticed he had taken two years of college education which qualified him to work as a link trainer.
In the fall of 1942, Springer went to Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, for link training for 12 weeks. Link training refers to the wartime usage of link trainer flight simulator machines to train pilots in basic flight techniques. According to a page on the Milton. J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, link trainers provided training to 500,000 Allied pilots over the course of the war. Consequently, the use of link trainers helped saved the lives of many pilots. Link trainers were also the pioneers of the modern flight simulators now used in the military.
In the spring of 1944, Springer transferred to Bryan Air Force Base near College Station, Texas, for eight weeks of advanced link training instruction. He was a diligent student and was one of the top 10 instructors of his class. During this time, he also promoted to sergeant. After leaving Bryan Air Force Base, Springer went to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, which was part of the 3rd Air Force. At Barksdale, Springer served with the 331st Army Air Force Base Unit where he trained pilots on link trainers to fly B-26 Marauder aircraft. Link trainers trained pilots to fly in all sorts of simulated conditions, such as at night and in bad weather. Springer trained both pilots, air crewmen and some officers, including a general who once requested a lesson.
Springer was at Barksdale for the rest of the war. During the winter of 1944-1945 as the Battle of the Bulge broke out, Springer was asked to be prepared for deployment to the frontlines based on his shooting qualifications. In February 1946, Springer honorably discharged at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as a staff sergeant. During his service, he received a Good Conduct Medal, a World War II Victory Medal and an American Service Medal.
After the war, Springer decided to change his profession and used his GI Bill to attend the Massachusetts School of Optometry. Following his graduation, he worked for a private optometry practice before setting up his own in Passaic, New Jersey. He married Susan Cohen, a New York school teacher, in 1960. They had two children and five grandchildren. After retiring from his optometry practice in 1990, Springer enjoyed photography, birdwatching and the New York Mets.
Springer passed away in June 2012 at the age of 91.
We honor his service.
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Writer: Sarah Concepcion
Editors: Wilson S. Sainvil, Merrit Pope
Fact checker: Timothy Georgetti
Graphic artist: Brittany Gorski