March ‘Hero of the Month’ flew ‘The Hump’ during World War II

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ARVADA, Colo. -- An Arvada man played in a big role in a big war,  but received very little recognition for it.  Until now.

FOX31 has named Leland "Lee" Stolberg our Problem Solvers Serving Those Who Serve "Hero of the Month" for March 2018.

Stolberg flew dozens of dangerous missions over China, Burma and India during World War II.  He was a flight radio operator on a C-46 cargo crew - lugging drums of gasoline over the Himalayas, to re-supply the Chinese in their efforts to defeat Japan.

"And that was a very rough ride," Stolberg told FOX 31.

It's been called one of history's most complex and deadly logistical operations. They called it "flying The Hump."  He did it more than 80 times.

"The weather was bad all the time over 'The Hump,'" Stolberg said.

A lot of his fellow US Army Air Forces (AAF) flight crews did not make it out alive.  At least 700 allied planes crashed or were shot down.

"They took about 1700 crew members with them," he said.

And Stolberg had close calls of his own.

"If you lost an engine, you were in trouble," he said.

When you think of the United States role in World War II, few people remember our guys serving in China.

"It was considered by most people to be a minor operation, and it was compared to Iwo Jima and Europe.  Those are the guys that really were the heroes of World War II.  The ground troops, the Marines, the Army," Stolberg said.

But he played a crucial role in ending the war. And while he may not consider himself a hero, he's got plenty of awards that prove otherwise. And now, he's got a new one too.  Our "Hero of the Month" plaque and the $250 gift card that comes with it, from our Serving Those Who Serve sponsors, US Mortgages and DCP Midstream.

And the award comes with a big thank you to this 93-year-old hero, for serving his country.

To nominate a Hero of the Month for April, click here.  It can be a veteran, active duty service member, spouse, child, volunteer - anyone who makes a sacrifice for our country's military.

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