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Major Julian Schuster

5th Air Force B-25 similar to the one Schuster worked on. (from

Julian Schuster was a Major in the US Army Air Corp from 1939 to 1943.  He performed trouble-shooting and diagnostic work on aircraft in the Pacific Theater of War up until his death in a plane crash in 1943.

Born in 1909 in Ontonagon, Michigan, Julian graduated high school in 1926, and got a job teaching in the local area.  He built his first airplane in the 1930s using a motorcycle engine and used it to give locals rides.  He moved to California before joining the Army Air Corps in 1939.  Here he worked on experimental and test aircraft until the war broke out.  In 1942 he was transferred to Australia to the 5th Air Force.  Here he helped fix the new P-38 lightnings’ supercharger, which had grounded the planes.  Because of his successes, he was promoted to the rank of Major, and was transferred to Townsville, Australia to work on improving the firepower of the B-25 Mitchell.

Originally armed with 4 fifty-caliber machine guns mounted in the nose, the goal was to add an additional four machine guns in pods attached to the side of the fuselage.  On September 23, 1943, while on a test firing flight, the B-25 crashed killing all four of the crew members.  There was some initial thought that the fire had been caused by a flare gun, but was later determined to be from a fire in the plane caused by poor mounting of the machine gun pods.  Major Schuster was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit by General Douglas MacArthur.

In 2005 the Ontonagon County airport was dedicated and renamed in honor of Major Schuster and a memorial was erected near the main office.

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