Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of feature stories on local veterans. Newman resident Joe Auria is featured. The series continues through Veterans Day.
NEWMAN - Two military chapters in his life sent local resident Joe Auria to sea and into the air.
Auria served in the Naval Reserve from 1950-52, during which time he deployed aboard two-week cruises on a destroyer escort, and later became a pilot in the Air Force, serving from 1952-56.
“When I was going through basic training, they came around and asked if anybody wanted to be a pilot,” he related. “They taught me how to fly. I flew everything from Piper Cubs to P-51 Mustangs, but I was never in combat.”
His first airplane ride was in a P-51 Mustang, Auria noted.
Auria said he quickly learned that mathematics are embedded in virtually every aspect of being a pilot.
In class, he recalled, “we started with simple math and we went on to calculus in six weeks.....and you’d better have gotten it.”
Auria had initially gotten into the military in the Naval Reserves, he said, because he wanted to serve but was too young to go to Korea.
One of his experiences there was a voyage to Cuba, Auria noted.
He left the reserves with training in radar systems which ultimately served him in the Air Force. When his unit spent a month in England on temporary duty, Auria told Mattos Newspapers, he was a ground mechanic working primarily on the radar systems of B-47 bombers.
His background was also a benefit in civilian life, Auria reflected, as he went on to work for a time as an aircraft engine mechanic for an airline.
“I’m happy I served, and sorry I got out when I did,” he remarked. “I think it is a good thing for every kid to get into the service. It is good experience for them.”