Leland "Sticks" Pennington was born in 1922, he grew up in Rochester, New York. Leland called Alma Place home, and he attended school at Monroe High. He grew up dreaming of flying, at Monroe he was a member of the aviation program. Athletics were also one of Pennington's strong-suits as he excelled in football and was offered scholarships. In 1942, our local flyer qualified as an aviation cadet, overcoming significant odds which were in place against African Americans at the time. By 1943, Pennington was a member of the elite "Tuskegee Airmen," flying the infamous P-51 Mustang. He served with the 332nd Fighter Group from this point on, until one fateful day in 1945.
On April 21st, Flight Officer Leland H. Pennington was lost in combat over Zadar, Italy (modern day Croatia), while returning from a successful escort mission over the Attnang-Puchheim Marshalling Yard. A lifelong friend of Pennington, Charles Price, remembers the day his companion didn't come home. Price was watching as the P-51s returned to their home base in Ramatelli, Italy. One group of Mustang's inbound was flying in the missing man formation. It did not take long for him to acknowledge, Leland was gone. Remains of the Flight Officer or his aircraft have never been found. Leland lived a significant life and is a hero to all whom are connected to him and know of his service. His legacy must be remembered to the best of our abilities to ensure that future generations hear, see, and feel his history.
Air Medal (L) and Purple Heart (R) Awarded to F/O Pennington, Post-Mortem