My Story – John Ohler

Member's Bio

John Ohler’s favorite aircraft in the Air Park is the UH-1 Huey.  John served in the Army for six years, 1961 – 1967.  The first two years, John was assigned to a Ground Combat Company.  

Wikipedia Link

The UH-1 was primarily used by the Army in Vietnam.  

After forty-two years with Maytag, John’s daughter gave him a Lifetime Membership to PAM in 2001 so he wouldn’t get board.

My Story


When John was 9 years old, his mother and several siblings escaped the Nazi occupancy in Romania, starting with a 3 1/2 weeks ride in a boxcar.  They eventually ended up in Austria, where his father met up with them.  


As the war wound down, the Army had a training base near the village where John and his family was living.  John’s dad was a shoe cobbler.  One day, several Army staff stopped by the shop and indicated that an officer had ripped his boot and needed it fixed. 

 Later that day, a jeep with three staff and an officer stopped to pick up the boots.  Later that evening, another jeep pulled up with two men in white uniforms (cooks).  They were there to deliver the left overs of the officer’s dinner. 

 Needless to say, the officer picking up his boots was the Supreme Commander Dwight David Eisenhower.  John reflects that they ate like kings that evening.

In 1952, the family immigrated to the U.S., being one of the last groups passing through Ellis Island before it was closed.


During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, John’s unit was placed on 48 hour alert.  The unit’s mission was to capture Havana.  Fortunately, the Russians backed down and an invasion was not necessary.


One of the criteria for receiving aircraft from the different branches is that they be maintained.  John initiated a plan to spruce up the planes by repairing and repainting the aircraft over a 10 year span, starting in 2001.

Because of the aggressive nature of the restoration plan, the Navy reached out to PAM to be the only museum in the State of Illinois to host an F-14 Tomcat.  To minimize the costs of acquiring the F-14, the Navy flew the F-14 and a support team into the Central Illinois Regional Airport.