Born into a 2nd World War Marine family with two uncles serving in the Pacific, and a third enlisted in the Army Air Corps, it was only natural that Captain David Werner chose to join the Marine Corps 42nd Officer Candidate School class in 1966 with hopes of going to Pensacola.
After graduating Officer Candidates School in December 1966, Dave went on to Basic and Naval Flight Officer school, and received orders to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station with assignment to reconnaissance squadron VMCJ-3.
While on deployment in 1968, David earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat medal for Heroism for rescuing his unconscious pilot after a crash landing in an orange grove. His citation reads: “Although painfully injured by the impact of the crash, 1stLt Werner boldly moved to rescue the unconscious pilot. Ignoring the raging fire about to engulf the cockpit, he rapidly lifted him from the flaming wreckage. Unable to carry his companion from the dangerous area, Lt Werner resolutely dragged the disabled Marine through the flames, a distance of 30 meters, to the relative safety of an adjacent irrigation canal.”
In July 1969, he was assigned as part of a team of 12 to transit across the Pacific to Vietnam. They arrived in DaNang the day America launched to the moon, July 16, 1969. While there, David flew 16 missions in the EF-10B, 41 missions in the EA-6A, and 110 missions in the RF-4B.
In 1970, Captain Werner was assigned a priority mission to obtain urgently needed intelligence information on a suspected enemy storage and anti-aircraft complex. Prior to reaching the target, his aircraft came under a heavy volume of hostile anti-aircraft fire and was severely damaged. Captain Werner swiftly aided his pilot in maneuvering through the hostile fire and then expertly photographed the target area. For his efforts, David earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
David reflects that the Marine Corps has been one of the best things in his life. He was given first class training and responsibilities beyond what he ever expected. He sees the Marine Corps as a life empowering opportunity. He appreciates how it has benefited the rest of his life.