W3QPP - August 13, 2011

W3QPP - G. Paul Gerbracht G. Paul Gerbracht
Erie, PA
QCWA # 12737

G. Paul Gerbracht, age 89, an Erie native and lifelong resident, died Saturday, August 13, 2011 at Veterans Administration Medical Center.

He was born on July 7, 1922 George Paul Gerbracht, a son of the late Earl J. and Lula Chapman Gerbracht. Paul attended Sacred Heart School and graduated from Erie Technical High School.

He was a Civil Service Apprentice of Aircraft Instrument Repair at Middletown Air Depot Engineering School, Harrisburg, Pa. in 1942. Paul earned a certificate in Electronics at A.T.E.S. Technical School. He received a Masters Equivalency in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a life member of Iota Lambda Sigma Fraternity and is a past Executive of Theta Chapter.

Paul enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1942 and was assigned to Army Air Force Training in Gyro repair at the American School of Aircraft Instruments in Glendale, Calif. to qualify as a Rating of Instrument Specialist. After training, he was attached to newly formed 458th Service Squadron, 318th Service Group at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma. On arrival in England, his unit was assigned to Aldermaston Air Base in Berkshire County. Maintenance work was done on C47 Aircraft for the 434th Troop Carrier Squadron on missions in England and France after D-Day. At war's end, the 458th was disbanded and personnel was returned home on qualification by a point system. A dispute over service points delayed his return home.

He was transferred to the 390th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group in occupied Germany during the Cold War. Duties included cold weather preflight on P47 Thunderbolt Aircraft and ground assisted (taxi-strip) wing riding. In December 1945, the 12th Tactical Air Force replaced the disbanded 9th Air Force. Paul was given leave to return to England and marry his fiance Doris Barlow. In January, he returned to the United States, was Honorably Discharged with the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the medals of Good Conduct, American Theater, European AME Service, WWII Victory, Army of Occupation, Presidential Unit Citation, Foreign Awards; French Normandy Invasion Commemorative and Liberation of France Medal. During post war study, he received the A.C.E.S. award for a Certificate of Achievement.

Paul retired in 1988, a Drafting and Design Instructor for 20 years at Erie County Technical School. A fair disciplinarian, he was honored by his last daytime class with a plaque stating, "Mr. G.P. Gerbracht, thanks for all of the knowledge we have received, your final class of 1987-1988". He was a part-time teacher of Electrical and Electronic Drafting at A.T.E.S. Technical School. He was also previously employed at Copes Vulcan Inc. and Erie Technical Products where he invented a printed circuit module. He developed a Hybrid Antenna Array, and many years after, assisted in the invention of the Amateur Radio Mini-Beam for Mini-Products Inc.

Paul was a life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of VFW Post 470 and Past Commander of Post 453. He was a Charter Life Member of the 9th Air Force Association. A life member of the 366th Fighter Group Association and Co-Founder of the 458th Service Squadron Association WWII. A founding member of the National Air and Space Society. A Charter Member of the WWII Memorial Society and Charter Sponsor of the Air Force Memorial Foundation and member of the Air Force Association. Paul designed and dedicated the Memorial Plaque at the former 458th Squadron Campsite honoring their WWII host, the Natives of Tadley Village in Hampshire, England, June 6th, 1997, near Aldermaston Airbase.

He was an Amateur Radio Operator assigned the call W3QPP and he held the British reciprocal call G5EKX. Paul wrote the Amateur Radio Column in the Sunday Dispatch Herald during the 1950's. He was a past Officer and Director of the Radio Association of Erie. He was a Director in the Old Old Timers Club. He was a Life Member of the American Relay League, the Quarter Centery Wireless Association and was Founder of the Lake Erie Tri-State Chapter of QCWA. He was a member of the British, ExG Radio Club and life member of the Australian British Old-Timers Clubs.

Paul was a member of the M31 Astronomy Club, also a member of Erie Model Aircraft/Flying Aces Club. He wrote Schnitzgami, his design of full body paper planes. He was a member of German Heritage Society (Dank #71) Chapter, the Erie Society for Genealogical Research, a Charter member of the History Channel Club, the Erie County PA Association of School Retirees. Paul attended many Consumer Advocate and City Council Meetings at Erie City Hall. He worked with Senior Organization of Neighborhood Watch Groups. Illness denied him from being a spectator of young relatives at Sporting Events. Besides his wife Doris, he is survived by a son, Donald and his wife Penny of Erie, a brother, Robert and his wife Delia (Bunny) Gerbracht of Pinole, CA, two nieces, two grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, three sister's in law in England, Joyce, Eva and Joan and several nieces and nephews in Erie and England.

Friends may call on Wednesday at the Francis V. Kloecker Funeral Home, Inc. 2502 Sassafras St. Erie, PA 16502 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and are invited to the Funeral Mass on Thursday morning at Blessed Sacrament Church at 10 a.m.

Send condolences to kloeckerfuneralhome.com

Entombment, with Full Military Honors, will be in Calvary Mausoleum East.

Special thanks to Stacey Sharples, LHHC and the VA Staff for the care and respect to Paul and his family.