WWII Fighter Pilot Turns 95
The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho
TWIN FALLS — Harry LeMoyne has been selling ranches and farms throughout southern Idaho for 60 years and there’s no retirement in sight.
The 94-year-old works full-time as a broker and spends his free time farming. He’s also a decorated World War II U.S. Army airman with 67 combat flights, including one over Omaha Beach the day after D-Day.
When asked about retirement LeMoyne says he doesn’t like golf so there’s “no reason to stop.”
LeMoyne had a physical the day before he spoke with the Times-News, everything is good he says, except for elevated blood pressure.
“My blood pressure was high yesterday, the VA doctor told me. I said, ‘Well, there’s a reason,’ LeMoyne said. “I tried to get a forest service contract out and signed this morning. Before I came here I was drinking coffee and trying to get that done, why wouldn’t my blood pressure be high?”
He sold thousands of ranches and countless acres of farmland throughout northern Nevada and Idaho since opening LeMoyne Realty and Appraisals, Inc. in 1953. One of the more significant sales was a 60-acre plot of farmland in Twin Falls he sold in the 1980s that was later developed into a commercial complex where roads, parking lots and dozens of stores were built including Target.
“The real-estate business is a good profession and you get to meet lots of good people,” he said. “In the farm and ranch business you spend a lot of time outdoors working with people and land and livestock. It’s just a good occupation. We’ve been fortunate. We don’t advertise much. We rely mostly on our reputation, word of mouth.”
LeMoyne was born in 1918 in Hagerman and graduated from Hagerman High School in 1935. He attended Boise Junior College and later worked for the Bacon Sheep Company in Jerome. In 1941, he volunteered to be an aviation cadet for the U.S. Army Air Corps and was deployed to England. He flew the P-38, P-51 and the P-47 for air and ground attacks against the Nazis throughout Europe until he was discharged in 1945. LeMoyne was commissioned a lieutenant in 1943 and promoted to captain in 1944, he said.
Herbert Weber, LeMoyne’s captain at the time, gave this account of an airstrike at Le Culot Airdrome in Belgium on July 16, 1941 in an official military report, where 20 mm shells tore the canopy off LeMoyne’s aircraft.
“I was Green leader, 359th Fighter Squadron, and before reaching Brussels, my section went down on the deck to strafe ground targets,” Weber said in the report.
LeMoyne’s squadron orbited the Belgian airfield at 9,000 feet before going into a steep dive to attack artillary units. LeMoyne opened fire on the Nazi airfield 1,000 yards from the ground, Weber wrote.
“As I opened fire, my gun-sight went out because of a bad connection and my shots hit short of the revetment. However, I scored numerous hits on the forward part of the fuse-lage and on the right wing. I broke-off at about 200 yards, banking to the right and applying left rudder. As I skidded, I could see Lt. LeMoyne’s bullets hit his (target),” Weber wrote.
“Soon after crossing the target, Lt. LeMoyne said he was hit. It turned out that his (aircraft) was badly damaged and he was wounded by a 20 mm shell as he crossed the revetments; and I escorted him to Manston.”
LeMoyne earned numerous ribbons during his time in the armed forces and seven metals, including a Flying Cross and Purple Heart. Metals and ribbons are framed on the wall of his original Realty office in Twin Falls. In the frame, LeMoyne’s Purple Heart is displayed next to fragments of the 20 mm that wounded him, leading to a honorable discharge in 1945.
LeMoyne returned to Hagerman, bought a band of sheep and took a job as a Gooding County appraiser. He got his Realtor’s license in 1953 and has since owned offices in Salmon, Sun Valley and Twin Falls.
Despite his bravery in the war and extensive real-estate career, LeMoyne is humble and says he’s “Just happy to be alive.”
He turns 95 on Wednesday, August 21. A celebration will be held at the Turf Club in Twin Falls from 4 to 7 p.m. If you know LeMoyne an RSVP can be made at 208-733-0874.