|Maurice Kurt "Ace" Langberg
|Air Force Captain Maurice Kurt "Ace" Langberg
As an Air Force Lieutenant, Maurice Kurt "Ace" Langberg was a heroic fighter pilot during World War II. He was born March 24, 1917 and his parents lived in Sewall's Point. He attended schools in Jensen Beach and all of Martin County was very proud of him. Newspaper clippings tell the stories of his heroic escapades and ultimate capture by the Germans.
He attained the rank of Captain before he was killed during an airial gunnery training mission Nov. 30, 1950 north of Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada.
We have copied some of the newspaper articles for you on this website and we're looking for more documentation of his heroic flights. If anyone has pictures and information to share, please contact us!
Capt. Maurice K. Langberg was stationed at Nellis Airforce Base, Nevada when he was killed Nov. 30, 1950, in a mid-air crash 25 miles northeast of Indian Springs, Nevada. He was flying a Lockheed-developed F-80 "Shooting Star" fighter jet - the first jet aircraft used by the United States Air Force - when his jet was struck by another jet flown by USAF fighter pilot Dwight E. Wilkes of Crocker, Missouri, during a four-plane arial gunnery training mission. Both pilots died. Capt. Langberg was 33. He is buried at All Saints Cemetery, Jensen Beach.
The picture (left) and the newspaper articles below were donated to VFW Post 10066 by Barbara M. Ferson, Lt. M. K. Langberg's School Teacher in Jensen Beach.
The caption on the back of the picture reads:
"A picture of my Spitfire taken just after landing at our field here in North Africa (November 1942)"
Newspaper Archive Articles of Maurice K. Langberg's escapades as an USAF Lieutenant during World War II are reprinted below:
Jan. 21 (probably 1943) – Seattle, WA – Associated Press Story
Headline: Stuart Ace Fights German in Spitfire vs. Focke-Wulf Fray
SEATTLE – Effectiveness of two-plane team play between American fighter pilots in combat with the German air force over the Mediterranean and North Africa was graphically told by Lt. Joe Klaas, former University of Washington journalism student, in a letter to his parents here.
Klaas identified his pilot-partner in a two-Spitfire team as Lt. Maurice Kurt “Ace” Langberg of Stuart, Florida.
“My wingmate covers my tail; I cover his,” Klaas wrote of another action. “We are stooging along a couple of hundred yards apart and 1,000 feet above the transports we are protecting. My eyes are sore from staring into the sun. My backside is numb from my parachute. My neck muscles are stiff from constant swiveling.
“Suddenly, through the radio telephone, Ace calls a warning: Two bogies, Joe, at 3 o’clock, high!” Bogies are what fighter pilots call unidentified aircraft.
“I throw up a wing to cover the ball of the sun. The bogies are enemy, so I switch the radio to ‘transmit’ and pass on the good news.
“They’re bandits, Ace! Two Focke-Wulf 190’s in the sun. You watch ‘em. I’ll watch the transports. Tell me when to break.”…
“Our job is to see that the Focke-Wulf didn’t get through to shoot up the carriers flying down below us. The carrier pilots are tightening their formations and praying.
“Here they come!” calls Ace. “Break starboard…now!”
“I haul back on the stick and jerk my Spit into a blackout turn to the right, hurling head-on into the Hun attack. Now it’s the Hun’s turn to break. He does, breaking upward, giving me one short squirt with my cannon at his mottled belly as he runs from me my job is not to chase the Hun and leave the carriers unprotected.
“And those are the boys who deserve the credit. Those boys down below who sweat it out on transports with nothing between them and the Luftwaffe but a couple of fighter escorts. We Spitfire boys have guns; all the transport lads have is guts.”
Downing a German bomber over North Africa with a woman at the tail gun was reported by the Seattle flier.
Lt. Klaas did not elaborate upon the report of a feminine German gunner, except to explain that the plane was shot down and “she was quite dead.”
Martin County Florida – May 6, 1943
Headline: Langberg Missing In Action On The Tunisian Battlefront
A terse telegram from the War Department yesterday informed Mr. and Mrs. John Langberg of Sewall’s Point that Lt. Maurice K. Langberg has been missing in action since April 19.
“The Commanding General of the North African area,” the telegram said, “reports that your son, 1st Lt. Maurice K. Langberg, previously reported wounded and later returned to duty, has been missing in action since April 19…” The wire from the Adjutant General expressed regrets that the necessity of conveying the information and promised further details when and if available.
Lt. Langberg has been in the forefront of the Allied fighting ever since America’s entry into the war.
Editor’s Note: WE ARE PROUD OF HIM
It may be simply stated that the people of Martin County are proud of Lt. Mauriec K. Langberg.
We share the anxiety of his family. We can also, and we should certainly, share their faith and hope that he will come through this experience.
May 20, 1843 – Stuart, Florida
Headline: STUART HERO IS WAR PRISONER MOTHER LEARNS BY RED CROSS
Lt. Maurice Kurt Langberg, Stuart’s fighting hero of the North African front, is a prisoner of the German Government, it was learned today – thirty days after youg Langberg disappeared while in combat with a group of Messerschmidts.
His mother, Mrs. John Langberg of Sewall’s Point, received a telegram from the adjutant general today advising that Lt. Langberg is a prisoner. The information was relayed by the International Red Cross. Further details were promised as soon as available.
Weeks of anxiety – while not ended – were alleviated for his family and friends here.
Young Langberg, a daring pilot, credited with shooting down two Nazi planes, and with once escaping from the Italians when he fell behind their lines and was captured in late march, was wounded in action in aerial combat about April 10. He recovered from his wound and took part in the gigantic aerial offensive which smashed the Luftwaffe from the skies over Tunisia on April 20.
So daring and eager for combat that his superior officers and comrades frequently feared for his safety, he left his squadron to attack a formation of Messerschmits single-handed – and that was the last seen of him. Failing to return to his base, he was listed as missing in action until today.
His mother clung steadily in the hope that he had fallen behind enemy lines and even though the weeks dragged on, she refused to believe that he had been a victim of war. Friends here shared the conviction that he would “come through,” although their elation is tempered by the knowledge that he is a prisoner.
Although nothing definite is known here, it is assumed that he was in the last group of prisoners transferred from the Tunisia to the continent just before the United States forces completed their conquest of North Africa. This is indicated by the transfer of information from the International Red Cross at Geneva.
Early June 1943
Last Sunday’s Miami Herald carried in its officially-released U.S. casualty lists the name of Lt. Maurice K. Langberg under “Killed In Action In North Africa.”
Headline: MOTHER READS SON KILLED BUT HEARS FROM HIM
Subhead: direct Word Received From Langberg In Nazi Prison Camp
Although she had been informaed more than three weeks ago by the International Red Cross that her son was a prisoner of the German government, the grim lines of type in the South Florida paper shocked Mrs. John Langberg of Sewall’s Point, his mother, and it was a reassuring miracle to her when Monday’s mail brought this letter from Maurice:
Mit Lufpost Par Avion, Absender: Vor --- und Zuname Lt. M.K. Langbert, U.S.A.A.F., Gefangenennumber 1242; Lager-Bezeichung –M. – Stammlager Luft 3, Deutschland –
May 10, 1943
“Dearest Mother – First I want to explain to you how all the letters to me should be addressed, as the following:
Lt. M. D. Langberg, U.S.A.A.F., Prisoner of War No. 1242, Stammlager Luft III, Germany.
“Please write to every one of my friends that you know of and give them this address and it will greatly facilitate my mail getting to me. You are the only one who can send me any parcels and then only one every sixty days, but perhaps you will be able to send them oftener at first. To send them you must have next-of-kin labels, which the U/.S. Government will send you. If you haven’t received any by the time this letter reaches you, write to the Prisoner of War Dept. in Washington and ask for them to be sent at once.
“My parcels can weigh ten pounds, and here are the articles I need most: two woolen Army shirts, 15 by 32; six pairs of heavy socks: 50 or 100 razor blades and razor; three pair of white cotton shorts, size 30; three short-sleeved woolen undershirts size 36; two toothbrushes; 100 yards of wide dental floss; one pair of six 8 tennis shoes; cod liver oil tablets and 300 vitamin tablets.
“I’m feeling fine and receiving good treatment and food; with the Red Cross food parcels each week. Be sure to go to the Red Cross about sending parcels and if articles requested don’t weigh 10 pounds, make up remainder with block milk chocolate.
“Write very often. Your loving son – Maurice.