Roy Lincoln Wonder
U.S. Navy, Aviation Division
Pilot, Legal Officer, and Lieutenant Commander
Korean War (1951 – 1955)
Ribbon for Outstanding Service
Roy L. Wonder was born in Winfield, Kansas, on November 3, 1928. His father, a World War II veteran, was a Methodist minister, and his mother was a homemaker. He grew up with his parents and two sisters in Kansas, and he spent his summers in Colorado working at his uncle’s ranch. He valued his education and was able to graduate from college before his service in the war. Expecting to be drafted, Wonder decided to enlist in the navy in the aviation unit. He chose to enlist in the aviation unit because he was fascinated by aircrafts and had some experience with flying.
In 1951, Wonder began his pre-flight training, which is equivalent to boot camp. He trained both in and out of the classroom, learning basic military training, which prepared him for flights. Wonder was very dedicated to learn how to fly, and he enjoyed every minute of it. In addition to his pre-flight training, Wonder received special training as a pilot-navigator. After training, he was granted a short leave to Kansas where he visited his family before his first assignment.
Equipped with proper knowledge and mindset, Wonder set out on his first assignment in Brunswick, Maine, in the VP-10 anti-submarine squadron in 1952. He felt very welcomed by his personnel. The general morale of the unit was very high due to their educated skills, excellent leadership, and effective service to the United States. The living situations were quite comfortable and resembled a fraternity. Wonder described his quarters as a “bachelor’s home.” As for food and entertainment, Wonder was satisfied with both. He said that the food was edible, and skiing was a pleasant option for the weekends. There were always sufficient supplies, and communication with his family was available through phones and letters.
Being motivated throughout his assignment, he eventually was promoted from lieutenant junior grade to lieutenant commander, the highest rank he had earned. Wonder loved being able to fly very nice aircrafts such as the twin engine P2V and had a natural talent at flying. Because of his hard work and passion for flying, Wonder received a ribbon for general excellence. In addition to his service in the aviation division of the navy, he attended the naval justice school due to his interest in law and became a legal officer. While performing his pilot and legal duties in Maine, he thankfully received no injuries. After his service in Maine, Wonder was deployed to Morocco, Iceland, and the Azores and continued his pilot and legal duties. Again, he received no injuries.
In mid-1955, Wonder was released from service. He described his release as positive and felt welcomed with great hospitality by the military, the government, his family, and Americans in general. He reconnected with his family in Kansas and got married. Now settled, Wonder joined the naval reserve and furthered his education in law by attending Georgetown University for three years. Upon finishing law school, he worked full time at the General Aircraft Corporation for thirteen years. He then began his law career, in which he worked his way up to a Marin superior court judge.
While Wonder and his squadron mates have moved on and kept busy in their everyday lives, they are given the opportunity every five years to reconnect at reunions. However, these reunions take place on the east coast, and Wonder has not been able to attend. Nevertheless, Wonder remains in contact with his fellow personnel on the west coast. He is also an active member of the Navy League, supporting the sea services.
Now an accomplished and retired man, Wonder looks back on his service with fond memories. “Everything was pleasant,” he claimed. Looking back, he believes that his war experience “provided a positive foundation for [his] life and continued [his] positive outlook.” He loved being a part of what he considered an elite group in the navy.
Along with the countless pleasant memories, Wonder recalls a few challenging moments. When he enlisted in the war, he felt displaced because his life was “put on hold.” Another difficult part of his service was being in foreign, remote locations. He also remembers a scary moment when one of his engines quit while on patrol in Iceland. Despite these minor challenges, Wonder enjoyed the experience.
Both the positive and negative experiences from the war instilled valuable knowledge in Wonder. When asked what people should know about national service, he answered by saying, “National service is something everyone should strive for. Even though it is a bit of a sacrifice, when it is all over, it is positive.” His advice for those interested in serving is to “take advantage of serving your country, and seek higher education.” Overall, Wonder has been very grateful for having the opportunity to serve in the navy, and he believes it is an experience that is very rewarding.
Interview by Gabriella Aversa and Kathryn Khalvati on June 24, 2011