Edwin A. Loberg, 89, a retired Air Force Colonel who was a combat pilot and Base Commander, died of cardiac arrest February 28, 2004, at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He lived in Annandale, Virginia, since 1958.
Colonel Loberg was a native of Tigerton, Wisconsin, and a graduate of what is now the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. He taught in a one-room schoolhouse near Tigerton for about a year before he joined the Army Air Corps in 1941.
Commissioned a Second Lieutenant, he graduated from Flight Training School and was assigned to the 26th Bomb Squadron of the 11th Bomb Group at Hickam Field on the island of Oahu, located between Pearl Harbor and Honolulu.
He later recounted that on the morning of December 7, 1941, he was walking out of his barracks, straightening his tie, when the attack on Pearl Harbor began. He was nearly hit by the strafing from Japanese warplanes. The attack on Hickam Field alone killed 121 men.
Colonel Loberg later flew 90 combat missions in the South Pacific from Hawaii to Guadalcanal to New Guinea. His war exploits — including an aerial dogfight between his B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a Japanese flying boat — were included in a chapter of a book written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ira Wolfert. Wolfert spent six months with Colonel Loberg, who also piloted cargo flights over the Hump — 15,000-foot mountain ranges in the China-Burma-India theater. Colonel Loberg also flew the B-29 Superfortress during World War II.
In the Korean War, he was Deputy Chief of Staff of the War Planning Room at Strategic Air Command headquarters, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
After the war, he had appointments as commander of Air Force bases in England. He served at the Pentagon with the Joint Chief of Staff's office of counterinsurgency and was chief of staff of headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base before retiring from active military duty in 1968.
His military decorations included the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medals.
In retirement, he was a project officer for Martin Marietta and a sales representative for Lord & Burnham, a manufacturer and marketer of greenhouses.
He was a past president and Hixson fellow of the Kiwanis, a board member of the Woodburn Mental Health Center in Falls Church and a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
His wife, June Madsen Loberg, died in 1978. The had been married 38 years.
Survivors include two sons, Bruce Loberg of Alexandria and John Loberg of Staples, Minn.; and two grandchildren.
Elements of Bolling's ceremonial mission performed a fitting military funeral Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, for retired Air Force Colonel Edwin A. Loberg, a former World War II pilot and Bolling Chief of Staff.
Beneath an overcast and rainy sky, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard's Ceremonial Flight and the U.S. Air Force Band's Ceremonial Brass laid Colonel Loberg to rest amidst the freshly turned soil with full military honors in the presence of dozens of his family members and friends.
11th Wing Commander Colonel Duane A. Jones, with his wife Jan and their children, and Chief Master Sergeant Jonathan E. Hake, the 11th Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant, attended the funeral on behalf of the wing.
As the Ceremonial Brass played “God Bless America,” members of the Honor Guard positioned themselves with their rifles ready to pay tribute to the horse-drawn caisson bearing the World War II hero's remains. The 11th Operations Group commander, Colonel Douglas Lengenfelder, served as the officer in charge of troops. All were garbed in ceremonial blue rain gear.
“Colonel Loberg answered the call to save the world,” said Chaplain (Colonel) David Broyles, senior chaplain for the 11th Operations Group's ANC Chaplains Office. “He was a hero in the truest sense of the word.”
A survivor of Pearl Harbor, Colonel Loberg went on to fly 90 combat missions in B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress aircraft around the South Pacific as part of the 26th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy) — Bolling's earliest flying ancestor.
A 45-minute dogfight on October 23, 1942, made Colonel Loberg part of Air Force history. While highly unusual for a bomber to engage in a dogfight, then-Lieutenant Loberg did just that in his B-17 against a Japanese “flying boat” (Kawanishi H6K Mavis) attacking a U.S. Navy patrol bomber out at sea.
In the words of Ira Wolfert, a World War II correspondent and later Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist, who was on the surprising flight, “It frequently stood against the sea on one wing like a ballet dancer balancing on one point, and occasionally it went over even farther than that and started lifting its belly toward the sky in desperate effort to keep the Jap from turning inside it … the plane, one of the oldest being used in the war, ran at top speed, shaking and rippling all over like a skirt in a gale.”
The unusual incident was memorialized on canvas by artist Stan Stokes in his original oil painting, “An Interesting Dog Fight.”
In honor of Colonel Loberg's bomber feats, a B-1 aircraft from Dyess AFB, Texas, performed a flyover during the funeral.
“Ed would've loved this, Ed would've loved this,” a woman attending the funeral said as she followed the big black bird in the sky with avid eyes.
Colonel Loberg was eulogized by several friends including a neighbor of 30 years as a man who supported his country, community and family.
In ceremonial response, the final movements of the full-honors funeral included a seven-person Honor Guard firing party executing a three-round-volley, the playing of taps by a Band bugler and flag honors.
With utmost precision, a six-person Honor Guard flag team unfolded a U.S. flag and folded it again, reverently folding and sliding it into the shape of a triangle
— preparing it for presentation.
Accepting the flag, Colonel Jones presented it to the Loberg family with the words, “On behalf of the president the commander-in-chief, the men and women of the United States Air Force and a grateful nation.”
Colonel Loberg, who served as headquarters Bolling's chief of staff prior to his retirement in 1968, was laid to rest in Area 54 of ANC, amongst World War II, Korea and Vietnam comrades in arms and spouses from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
Members of “The Chief's Own” perform an average of four military funerals at ANC a day.
LOBERG, EDWIN A
COL US AIR FORCE
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 10/01/1940 – 10/01/1968
DATE OF BIRTH: 02/20/1915
DATE OF DEATH: 02/28/2004
DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/26/2004
BURIED AT: SECTION 54 SITE 5807
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard