Robert W. Vail, of Tulsa, passed from this life on February 29, 2012 at his home with his family by his side. \r\r\n \r\r\nRobert was born January 9, 1924 to Kenneth Eugene and Mary Emma Gardner Vail. He was a descendant of and named for Civil War General Winfield Scott. He grew up in Montdale Pennsylvania mother and father's families had lived in Montdale since before the Revolutionary War. Bob's father Kenneth Eugene died when Bob was 13, leaving his mother, Mary Emma Gardner Vail with 3 sons - Bob, being the youngest. Mary Emma taught school, roomed and boarded fellow teachers. The 3 boys did janitorial work at Scott High School, across the road from their home. They didn't have a car but bicycles did just fine. \r\r\n \r\r\nBob spent his summers in Washington, D.C. with his Aunts, who were also school teachers. He sacked groceries in a super market to earn spending money, and played baseball with the Washington Bay Club. His years spent in Washington gave him a keen sense of patriotism. Washington D.C. is still his favorite vacation spot. Bob graduated High School, president of his senior class as a salutatorian, 16 years old, youngest in his class. Immediately, he enrolled at Penn State University Bob hitchhiked to get there. To make his way he worked 3 jobs - the university library, girls dorm kitchen and he scrubbed floors in a restaurant for meals. He went non-stop tri-mesters and lettered in 2 sports, soccer and baseball. Being an ROTC student he was going to graduate a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army - which was not what he wanted to do - he left before graduation and joined the U.S. Navy Air Force to become a Navy fighter pilot. \r\r\n \r\r\nHis first training assignment was East Central U. Ada, Oklahoma - for pre-flight training where he fell in love with a girl and the State of Oklahoma.Graduation at Pensacola Naval Air Station came January 24, 1944, only 15 days after becoming 20 years old. Bob was the youngest, to this time, ever to graduate at Pensacola Naval Academy. Ensign Vail returned to Oklahoma and married Sue, his first love. He was assigned to newly organized fighter squadron 87 (again the youngest in the squadron). VF87 was stationed first on Aircraft Carrier Randolph - and took it on its shake-down cruise - after 2 months the squadron was transferred to U.S.S. Ticonderoga where they were based, flying F6F Hellcats in the Pacific theater, till the end of the war. Bob tells of many interesting experiences - One of his favorites - One morning the squadron was in the 'ready room' getting briefings for the days strike (which was to be the longest flying time of any previous strike). The planes were ready, as were the pilots, when an announcement came over the P.A. system that 'All flights had been cancelled for the day'. No reasons given - that evening they learned their flight was scheduled in a direct cross path of the first bomber to drop the first atomic bomb - which it did on Hiroshima that day. They flew close cover for the Army and Marines landing on Okinawa. Fighter Squadron 87 and Lt. Junior Grade Vail were bombing Tokyo when Japan surrendered - they were the last bombs dropped on Japan. The U.S.S. Ticonderoga and VF87 were honored to be present in Tokyo Bay as a member of the occupation force during the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied Forces. \r\r\n \r\r\nBob was home for a belated Christmas in 1944.He still had a test to pass. He had never learned to drive a car. He taught himself to drive in his father - in - law's pre-war Plymouth - and after receiving two air medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross, he passed the test and became the proud owner of an Oklahoma driving license at the ripe old age of 21. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941 it changed many lives - boys like Bob who had planned to be a coach and math teacher in some high school or college in Pennsylvania - but instead they loved their country enough that they were willing to die to protect its freedom - and as Bob Vail tells his grandchildren 'To fly off of, and onto, a carrier deck in the middle of the ocean - daylight and dark - it helped to be a little crazy too.' Bob is survived by his son Bobby, Bobby's wife Janice, daughter Marci, Marci's husband Ken. 5 grandchildren and 11 great grandkids.