War hero’s son visits local Sea Cadets


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David McCampbell

A Dec. 6 visit by the son of a war hero, quite fascinating in his own regard, had excitement at a high pitch at the U.S. Sea Cadet Corps, Dave McCampbell Battalion in Suntree. 

Dave McCampbell was an American naval aviator who became the U.S. Navy’s all-time leading ace with 34 aerial victories during World War II. The third-highest scoring U.S. flying ace of World War II, he was the highest-scoring ace to survive the war.

The day’s honoree and speaker, the son of the namesake, David McCampbell was found through the diligence of
Lt. John F. Panik Jr.

“I researched it and tried to find out where he was at and I didn’t give up hope. I contacted West Palm and finally I had a break and I found him in 2013 and found out that sometimes he stays in this area and would agree to speak,’’ he said. 

”They wanted to find a vet that was related to Melbourne, and Melbourne airport used to be a Naval Air Station for training during World War II,’’ explained Laura Mohoney, public affairs officer. “We like to connect with the veterans and the history of the area. We’re trying to be very educational. We have a lot of historical resources around.’’

McCampbell had each member of the unit get up and state their names along with their favorite activities before starting his slide show about the fighting in the Pacific during World War II. Many said Sea Cadets.
`Dave McCampbell and his wife are traveling the world on a sailboat and dropped by many of the areas of the South Pacific, where his father was a fighter pilot. He has become an expert at the artifacts of both American and Japanese planes and armaments and he had slides of some that can still be found on the islands.

The battalion has five officers, three auxiliaries (parents) with the charter at about 27 cadets. Sea Cadets is for boys and girls aged 11 to 17, with ages 11 to 13 being called league cadets and ages 14 to 17 being called sea cadets.

“They go through training in the summer through winter, from culinary to medical to flying to sailing. They’re everywhere. My daughter even went to Singapore as an ambassador through sea cadets, so they can get a lot of career opportunities,” Mahoney said. 

The U.S. Sea Cadet Corps, Dave McCampbell Battalion in Suntree performs a drill for guest speaker David McCampbell, son of the battalion’s namesake.