Influences and experiences during John Stemple’s youth engendered a love of aviation and all things nautical. John was born in the city touted as “The Birthplace of Aviation” and early on he developed a fascination with flying because the local citizenry cherished the legacies of the famous powered flight pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Also influential was the fact that the Stemple residence was near a major air force base and jets passed overhead, some causing sonic booms, daily. In the mid 1960s an airplane ride arranged by George “Sky King” Vaughn represented John’s first trip to the clouds. For John Stemple it was a life-changing event.
Mr. Stemple also vividly recalls cruising the waters of Lake Erie circa 1965-1968 between Put-in-Bay, Ohio and Pelee, Ontario, Canada during summertime excursions aboard a Sea Cadets boat. Whenever the vessel transited through the area where the bitter September 1813 Battle of Put-in-Bay (aka “Battle of Lake Erie”) occurred impressionable young John mentally pictured the majestic Royal Navy sloops-of-war HMS Queen Charlotte and HMS Detroit and the U.S. Navy snows USS Niagara and USS Lawrence with their associated squadrons. He also thought of the sailors who were killed and maimed during the bloody encounter, a nautical skirmish in a geographically large conflict which Lieutenant John Le Couteur of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot succinctly summarized as a “hot war and unnatural war between kindred people.” The lad agreed with Le Couteur’s sentiments.
From the deck of the small craft John also watched commercial Ford Tri-Motors and general aviation aircraft transiting to and from island airports and U.S. Coast Guard cutters on patrol. To the child it was all fascinating. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he would eventually be at the controls of aeroplanes and helms of motorboats.
John Stemple’s father, who undertook civilian flying training before World War 2, was employed at nearby Gentile Air Force Station, a military supply depot named after legendary Ohioan Dominic (aka ‘Don’) Salvatore Gentile, when John was born. In the early years of the Second World War, before the United States officially entered the conflict, Gentile enlisted with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at Cleveland, Ohio.
After training, Don Gentile was posted to No. 133 ‘Eagle’ Squadron, RAF, and subsequently became a premier U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) ace. While training to earn aircraft maintenance technician ratings, Mr. Stemple was inspired by accounts, which were provided to the class by airframe curriculum instructor William F. Laufer, of Don Gentile flying a North American P-51 Mustang fighter around Piqua, Ohio. Thus, Mr. Stemple, still only a teenager, had become engrossed with the aeroplanes and vessels of the Canadian, British, and U.S. armed forces.
After John obtained the applicable Federal Aviation Administration licenses he attended university and earned three (Aviation Administration, Management of Human Resources and Community Leadership) academic degrees.
Mr. Stemple joined the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol in 1998 as an Aerospace Education Member. He eventually undertook flying training and earned a pilot license. Additionally, John completed two years of full-time domestic national service and has periodically undertaken voluntary, short-term, uniformed labour commitments on overseas military bases.
John T. Stemple’s “family tree” contains one branch that originates with King Robert II (Queen Elizabeth II’s 17th great-grandfather) of Scotland. In honor of these familial roots John frequently writes about military aviation history related to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and former British colonies and protectorates, including Israel which was previously under the British Mandate for Palestine.
Scientific genealogical DNA testing and analysis revealed that John additionally possesses multiple Native American (U.S.) and First Nations (Canada) ancestries. Therefore, Mr. Stemple also enjoys writing about Native American and First Nations aviators.
As a supplement to above referenced photojournalism, John Stemple actively promotes the public recognition RCAF-Americans and RAF-Americans. In fact, John was a principal organizer and sponsor of ceremonies held in January 2016 to belatedly pay homage to those Floridians who voluntarily served in the RCAF and RAF during the Second World War. More recently, in 2017, he, in conjunction with Bomber Command Museum of Canada, ensured that RCAF-Coloradans received recognition by arranging for their induction into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame. Memorial plaques he designed and obtained for the Florida and Colorado initiatives are on indefinite display inside the Winter Haven Municipal Airport terminal and Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver.
Most recently John Stemple, as a salute to Her Majesty The Queen and military veterans, conceived of and proposed the 15 June 2019 Coronation Review of the Fleet Commemoration & Anniversary Flight. And with the support and assistance of the Rocky Mountain Wing of the Commemorative Air Force and Colorado Aviation Historical Society (CAHS), he flew as a passenger (attired in the uniform of an early 1950’s Royal Canadian Navy Leading Seaman Air Rigger) inside the Rocky Mountain Wing’s Grumman Avenger during the 1940’s WWII Era Ball at Boulder Municipal Airport.
John T. Stemple, a Commemorative Air Force ‘colonel’ and commissioned member of the Honorary Order of Kentucky Colonels, voluntarily serves Military Aviation Chronicles, Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Airplane Hunters, and Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada) in the capacities of historian, photojournalist, and occasionally as a camera plane pilot.
You may contact John Stemple via the following email address: MilitaryAviationChronicles@Gmail.com