SOMERVILLE, NJ - World War II hero Robert Vaucher celebrated his 100th birthday Monday night, receiving a proclamation from Mayor Dennis Sullivan that recognized his patriotism, heroism and civic accomplishments.
Lt. Col. Vaucher was the lead pilot in a 525-plane formation that flew over the deck of the battleship USS Missouri that was anchored in Tokyo Bay as Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed the peace treaty with the Japanese, ending World War II.
A former resident of Somerville, he now lives in Bridgewater.
Born Dec. 3, 1918, he was commissioned as an officer with a pilot rating on April 25, 1941 and flew his first combat mission on Dec. 16, 1941, fom Westover Field, MA, in a B-18 searching for German ships and submarines off the east coast, nine days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
During 46 months of active Army Air Corp service, Lt Col Vaucher flew nearly 40 different aircraft types for a total of 117 combat patrol, bombing, mining, and photography missions in Panama, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Galapagos, India, China, and Tinian.
His military awards include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals, eight Battle Stars and thirteen War Time Commendations and Citations.
The proclamation he received Monday night reads:
WHEREAS, Robert “Bob” Vaucher was born on December 3, 1918 in Mission, Texas and spent his lifetime providing service to his country and community ; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Vaucher served in the Army Air Corps as a pilot, flying his first combat mission on December 9, 1941 and his last on September 2, 1945, in which he led a 525 plane “Show of Force” over the Japanese surrender ceremony on the Battleship Missouri in the Bay of Tokyo; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Vaucher flew a total of one hundred sixteen combat patrol, bombing and photography missions in his career before being discharged from active duty in June 1946 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel , but continuing to serve in the Air Force Reserves until 1961; and
WHEREAS, after returning from war, Mr. Vaucher immediately became immersed into civic affairs joining the Somerville Lincoln Hose Volunteer Fire Company and becoming active at St. John’s Episcopal Church, chairing the 1956 capital fundraising campaign to enlarge the Parish Hall; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Vaucher assumed leadership roles in the Bridgewater Township lobbying and championing causes that included establishing the Bridgewater Raritan School District, routing of Interstate Highway 287, structural changes to the government, and creation of the Bridgewater Police Department; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Vaucher continues to fight for civic causes, most recently rallying to get a property in Bridgewater Township recognized as an American Revolutionary War Site and raising $800,000 in historic contributions for preservation; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I, Dennis Sullivan, Mayor of Somerville Borough, County of Somerset, State of New Jersey join with the Borough Council and recognize Mr. Robert Vaucher on his 100th Birthday and thank him for his lifetime of commitment to his country and community.
After accepting the proclamation, Vaucher noted that a pilot has to be exacting, with no room for error, noting that the proclamation noted 116 combat missions - actually, he had flown 117 missions, he told Sullivan, drawing laughter from those attending the meeting.
Vaucher was discharged from active duty in June 1946 and remained in the reserves until 1962.
His lifetime passion for aviation included owning a general aviation aircraft, maintaining a pilot’s license for 62 years, and serving as a member of the N.J. Dept. of Transportation Aviation Advisory Board. He was an innovative leader for 42 years in the metal working industry and has continuously served as a civic leader for 70 years in state, county, and municipal affairs.
He was married 53 years to Eleanor Hooey and raised three children in Bridgewater, N.J., where he still resides and, at age 96, continues to be an active leader in his community, dynamic speaker on WWII aviation, and a true inspiration to his family and friends.
In 2013, Vaucher was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame. The following year he was formally accepted as an eligible nominee for enshrinement into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.