RALPH S. LUCARDI, born the day after Christmas, 1919, in "The Patch", North Agawam, Massachusetts. He graduated from American International College, Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1942 with a B.S. in Chemistry. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted as an Aviation Cadet and trained in Class 43-J, getting his wings and commission at Napier Field, Dothan, Alabama. After a month's flying P-47G's in RTU at Perry Field, Alabama, he went directly to combat with the 57th Fighter Group in Italy.
The famed 57th had provided close air support in P-40's to allies all across the North African desert and had worked its way up through Sicily to Italy, where the first jugs arrived just prior to the outfit's move to Corsica. From Corsica, the 57th was charged with the responsibility of "Operation Strangle", cutting off communications and supplies to enemy forces in Italy.
Lucardi flew 111 missions dive-bombing, strafing and otherwise providing close air support for ground troops. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for leading a dive-bombing and strafing mission against the enemy airdrome at Ghedi, Italy, where he was directly responsible for the destruction of 14 enemy aircraft. He also earned the Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters.
After combat, Lucardi rotated to the U.S., married Jane M. O'Malley, and along with combat buddies Captains Chad Reade and Allen Sanderson, ran the Fighter Gunnery School at Las Vegas Army Air Field, Nevada, flying P-39's, P-63's and AT-6's.
Returning to civilian life in December, 1945, Lucardi entered the Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts; earned a Master's Degree in Physical Chemistry; and later worked as a Research Chemist for a subsidiary of the Johnson and Johnson Co.
During Korea, he rejoined the Air Force, trained in Biological Warfare with the Army, put in a tour at the Pentagon, and worked on Aircraft Escape Systems at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. Eventually moving to the electronics field, he joined the 425L Program of the Electronics System Division, Air Force Research and Development Command. The 425L Project Office was charged with the responsibility of designing, developing, and testing of the NORAD Combat Operations Center as well as the design and construction of the Combat Center itself, deep in the heart of Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After the 425L Project was successfully completed, Lucardi was appointed Chief of the Contract Management Office for the administration of all Federal Contract Research Centers ("Think Tanks") contracts for the Electronics Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command. It was from this assignment that he was promoted to Colonel and received the Legion of Merit.
Col. Lucardi retired from the Air Force in March, 1972 and makes his home in Suffield, Connecticut.
Units served with
The group was first activated as the 57th Pursuit Group in January 1941, flying P-40 Warhawks as part of the Army Air Corps Northeast Defense Sector (later assigned to the I Fighter Command) at Mitchel Field, New York. It trained in New England and...
Formed as a P-40 Warhawk pursuit squadron in January 1941 as part of the Army Air Corps Northeast Defense Sector (later I Fighter Command) at Mitchel Field, New York. Trained in New England and provided air defense of the northeast after the Japanese...
||Agawam, MA, USA
||26 December 1919
||Springfield, MA, USA
American International College
||Suffield, CT, USA
||7 April 1992
||Chicopee, MA, USA
||11 April 1992
Saint Patricks Cemetery