Warren C. Hess, retired Air Force colonel and World War II veteran

Warren C. Hess, a retired Air Force colonel and World War II veteran, died of Alzheimer's disease complications Oct. 23 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Howard County. The Ellicott City resident was 94.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was the son of Arthur O. Hess, a bakery salesman, and his wife, Hazel Ermantraut, a homemaker.


As a young man, Mr. Hess worked setting bowling pins at Coney Island and boxed while a high school student. He worked as a Wall Street bank runner before enlisting in the Army the day after the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

He was assigned to the Army's Air Corps and completed flight training, received his pilot wings and shipped out to fly B-17s from England in the 535th Bomb Squadron. His plane was hit by flak and shot down in Germany during a mission over Solingen. He parachuted into a farm region and landed on a barn. He served 519 days as a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany.

He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Silver Star. He declined a Purple Heart for the head injury he sustained in his parachute jump over Germany.

After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and joined the Shell Oil Co.

He was recalled for service in Korea and continued his career in the Air Force. He later served in Vietnam and at bases in Japan, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Germany and California.

He rose to the rank of colonel and retired from active duty at McGuire Air Force Base in 1978. He was interviewed at the 2004 opening of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Hess was a physical fitness devotee. He loved golf and continued playing regularly into his mid-80s at the old Fort Meade course and the Turf Valley Country Club.

"He was known his personal discipline, gallant manner and a fun-loving personality," said his son, Richard W. Hess of Ellicott City.

He enjoyed watching Orioles and Ravens games.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection, 3175 Paulskirk Drive in Ellicott City, where he was a member.

In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Linda Nostrant of Mount Laurel, N.J.; a brother, Robert Hess of Hertford, N.C.; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife of 42 years, Catherine Agnes Spencer, a teacher, died in 1990.