Age: 90

Unit: Army Air Corps, with the 492nd and 491st Bombardment Groups, Eighth Air Force. The 492nd sustained the most losses of any of the B-24 Liberator groups in a three-month period and was incorporated into other units.

War fronts: As chief of a plane repair crew, he spent 18 months in Pickenham, England, from 1943 to 1945.

In 1949, he was sent to Germany to help in the Berlin Airlift, an operation to fly food, fuel and other supplies to the people of West Germany after the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' rail lines and roads. Dunbar repaired C-47s -- planes used by paratroopers in the war -- to get them ready for the transporting of cargo.

Family: Married 62 years before his wife's death; two sons, one of whom died in a car crash. One grandson.

His words: In 1943, he trained at the Casper Air Base: "It was a tar-paper mud hole, and the wind blew constantly," he said. Once, while working on a plane in a hangar, his hammer fell off the work bench. When he bent over to pick it up, a bullet came through the walls and hit exactly where his head had been. He ran outside and saw a single plane in the sky, the pilot apparently clearing his guns. The bullet must have gotten away from him, Dunbar thinks. "It makes me believe heavily in guardian angels."

When Byron Dunbar was 6, his mother told him to listen for the sound of an airplane outside their house in Lincoln, Neb. It might be Lindbergh flying the Spirit of St. Louis, she said.

It was 1927, the year Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit from New York City to Paris in the first nonstop flight over the Atlantic. The famous pilot had trained at least two times in Lincoln, using the airstrip behind Dunbar's house.

And then: "Sure enough, I was sitting in the kitchen with a bowl of oatmeal when I heard it," he said. "He flew right over our house, real low."

Dunbar wanted to fly for as long as he could remember. He earned his civilian's pilot license, practicing on the same airstrip on which Lindbergh had trained.

In 1939, he enlisted in the Army. There he discovered he was color blind, so he learned to fix planes instead of fly them.

He was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, charged with bombing Germany and France to prepare for the invasion. He arrived in Pickenham, England, in 1943.

Each B-24 Liberator had its own crew of mechanics. Dunbar's speciality was sheet metal, and he oversaw an entire damage-repair section on the base. When a plane was hit, it was his job to decide whether it could be fixed in 30 days. Those that could were patched. Every bullet hole or flak tear was cut out, fitted with a piece of sheet metal and welded down.

Planes that would be down 31 or more days were sent to the salvage yard, acres and acres of grounded planes, stacked on top of each other.

"The most important thing was to have airplanes to fly against the Germans," Dunbar said. "Every day there were airplanes coming and going." Every day, more planes to fix.

Landing planes used colored flares to communicate with the ground crews.

A green flare meant all OK, standby.

Amber meant damage or injury, help needed.

Red meant "no hope left," Dunbar said. Though he couldn't distinguish the colors, he could tell what flare it was by how the men below responded. When the ambulances and fire trucks charged in, when dead and injured men were brought out on stretchers, he knew it had been a red flare.

Those are the stories he doesn't like to tell.

Dunbar stayed in the military for 16 years. It was his career, and he loved it. Then someone requested him -- by name -- to oversee plane repair in the Korean War.

His first son, David, was just a couple of months old when Dunbar went to England the first time. He second son, Dean, was just four or five months when Dunbar went to Germany in 1949 to help with the Berlin Airlift.

Both times, he left behind babies and came home to walking and talking toddlers who didn't really know him.

"It's pretty doggone tough," he said of leaving behind a family. "If you've got any morals at all, it makes it tougher."

He decided that if his wife were to have another baby, he would be home to see his or her first steps, hear the first words. Even if it meant starting over.

So, Dunbar gave up the military for civilian life. He remembered Casper from his training on the Casper Air Base. He liked the country, the fishing and the people. It was as good a place as any to live, he said. He moved his family here.

Today, he decorates his room at Paradise Valley Nursing Home with mementos of his life -- photographs of him standing by the plane he flew with his civilian license. Him at the microphone of a Casper radio station, a DJ for 10 years. Him wearing his favorite hat elk hunting in Wyoming.

There is also a photograph of him and his son, Dean, taken at the base in Amarillo, Texas, where Dean used to tag along.

Dean now lives in Denver. But his dad's service is still a strong connection.

Dunbar used to get the Eighth Air Force newsletter and would underline things he remembered. Then, he'd send them to Dean and the two would talk about the memory in phone calls.

Dean remembers an article about the chaplain who used to stand at the end of the runways, often in the fog, blessing planes as they took off. Dunbar remembered the chaplain well. He had once walked into Dunbar's shop, looking for a way to replace the communion set he'd lost in the shuffle of the war.

Dunbar found about 100 spent 50-caliber shell casings, 1/2 an inch around. He cut them down to about two inches or so and smoothed the rough metal edges. The chaplain used the cups to serve the communion wine, and Dunbar sipped from one in the service.

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