On D-Day, Veteran Recalls Training in World War II

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POINT TOWNSHIP -- Tuesday marks the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, one of the most iconic battles of World War II. D-Day was the start of the end of the war in Europe.

Lt. Col. Joe Diblin of Northumberland was a flight instructor during World War II. He trained thousands of men, and to this day, he recalls some very dangerous situations.

Lt. Col. Diblin has stacks of photographs and magazines with articles he's written, but he's quick to shine the spotlight on everyone else but him.

"It isn't necessarily being brave. It's loving and enjoying what you do," he said.

But Diblin has plenty of bravery. The 99-year-old Northumberland resident was a flight instructor during World War II. He was halfway through flight training when the war started and he wanted to go to combat. But Diblin had a degree in education and the Army had other plans for him.

"'We need instructors. You will be an instructor on twin engine advanced,'" he recalls being told.

Diblin trained countless men to fly during World War II. It was hard and thousands died in training. He remembers a close call while flying a B-24. There was a fire that forced an emergency landing.

"So I immediately dove it high speed down and slapped it on the runway. Of course, we ran off the end and didn't hurt anything."

After World War II, Diblin served as an Army pilot and then in the Air Force. He has 21 years of service, but one of his favorite memories is when he worked at Lycoming Aircraft Engines and flew both Presidents Eisenhower's and Johnson's airplanes.

"So I thought, for a country boy, that's nice, isn't it?"

Diblin lost two of his brothers in World War II and on this day, he looks back 73 years to the start of the end of the war in Europe known as D-Day.

"Well, you think, thank goodness it's over with and by luck I survived. I'm proud of my country."

Joe Diblin now writes articles for the Daily Item newspaper in Sunbury. He writes about aviation and interviews other veterans.

1 Comment

  • Patrick

    On this day, June 6, we should not set too much aside to think of those who did not come home, let’s save that for another day. Thank you for your diligent service and the training provided that did bring so many others home because of your efforts. Thank you Colonel.

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