Harold C. Rutka, B-24 Aerial Gunner, Glider Pilot

Harold Rutka, 34th Bomb Group, 7th Bomb Squadron, B-24 Aerial Gunner and Glider pilot, was a  founder and a Past President of the 8th AFHS-Mn.
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40 Photos  taken by Harold C. Rutka during WW II captioned as follows:
"These photos were taken by Harold C. Rutka who served in the Army Air Corps from March 1942 to June 1945. Rutka was a staff sergeant and attended glider pilot school and gunnery school. He was assigned to a B-24 bomber crew and flew 34 combat missions. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle East Campaign Service Medal with 4 bronze battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Rutka did reserve training in Duluth and Minneapolis until he retired as Chief Warrant Officer in 1981. He also retired as U.S. Post Office director of customer service after 38 years service."
Duluth News Tribune Obituary

Harold C. Rutka, 90, of Duluth, passed away peacefully March 13, 2011, in St. Luke's hospital after a brief illness.

He was born in Duluth on Feb. 8, 1921, and remained in Duluth for the rest of his life.

Harold married the love of his life, Genevieve, during World War II, after his completion of Army Air Corps pilot training. They recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary.

They were lifelong members of St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church. Harold served in many positions within the Knights of Columbus as a 3rd and 4th Degree member, and was inducted into the Knights of Columbus Hall of Fame.

Harold's Army Air Corps WWII service was recognized by his award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. He served with the much heralded 8th Bomber Group, 34th Bombardment Group (H), in his famous "Belchin' Bessie" B-24 Liberator.

For 25 years, Harold and Genevieve chaired the 34th Bombardment Group (H) reunions hosted throughout the world. Harold served as past president of the 34th Bomber Group and the mighty 8th Air Force Group. He continued his military service after the war in the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer 4, with 41 years of service.

After the war, Harold also began a career with the U.S. Postal Service, retiring as Duluth's director of customer services, with 38 years of service.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles A. and Theresa, and his brother, Robert.

He is survived by his wife, Genevieve; his sister-in-law, Joyce Rutka; his nephews, Dr. Robert (Carole) Rutka (children Ben, Chris and Becky), and Timothy Rutka (children Peter and David); and his niece, JoAnn (Robert) Porter (son Tony); as well as many lifelong friends.

A PRIVATE SERVICE will be held at Dougherty Funeral Home.