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LeRoy E. ‘Roy’ Shanklin, World War II veteran and BGE supervisor, dies at 101 

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LeRoy E. “Roy” Shanklin, a World War II Army Air Corps B-24 Liberator pilot who later became a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. district supervisor, died of pneumonia June 1 at his Bel Air home. He was 101.

LeRoy Edward Shanklin, son of Stanley Shanklin, a farmer and Glen Arm general store owner, and Claire Marshall Shanklin, a homemaker, was born and raised in Fork.

He attended Fork Elementary School and Towson High School, where he was the catcher for the varsity baseball team.

Finding farmwork not to his liking, Mr. Shanklin went to work as an office boy for BGE and then as a tree trimmer for the utility.

With the declaration of war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, Mr. Shanklin, who had always wanted to fly, went to the local recruiting station and enlisted on Dec.10 in the Army Air Corps.

He was sent to Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, and after completing flight training in Texas and Blythe, California, he was commissioned in 1944 and assigned to the 23rd Bomb Squadron, 5th Heavy Bomb Group, of the 13th Air Force in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Mr. Shanklin, who flew his B-24 Liberator from Washington to Hawaii, and then on to New Guinea in the South Pacific, began flying combat missions in 1944.

The 13th was dubbed the “Jungle Air Force” because its squadrons were not based near cities.

LeRoy E. “Roy” Shanklin was an avid collector of duck decoys.

“The 13th battled over millions of square miles of ocean and tropical islands, ranging from Tarawa in the Central Pacific to Hong Kong, Singapore and Java in the west, and Java, New Guinea, and the Solomons to the south,” according to a history of the 13th. “It is the only air force that fought in four theaters of war.”

Mr. Shanklin flew combat missions from a base on Biak Island near  New Guinea.

“He used to say he was never worried about getting hit but running out of gas over the ocean,” said his daughter Judie Lizewski Bulger, of Easton. “I have his logbooks and he loved flying those missions against the Japanese.”

Discharged at war’s end with the rank of lieutenant, Mr. Shanklin had decorations that included the World War II Victory medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with five battle stars, Philippine Liberation Ribbon and American Theater Ribbon.

Like many returning World War II veterans, Mr. Shanklin didn’t talk much about his wartime experiences.

“He started talking to his grandsons, who gleaned a lot of information from him as he grew older,” his daughter said.

Mr. Shanklin returned to his former job at BGE where he eventually was promoted to line foreman and finally as supervisor for the utility’s Cockeysville District. He retired in 1983.

He continued flying into his 60s and had owned an Apache helicopter and a Cessna.

“When I was living on New York’s Long Island, he and Mommy would fly up and he’d buzz my house and then I’d drive 2 miles to the airport to pick them up,” his daughter said.

During his training days, Mr. Shanklin deftly flew beneath telephone wires.

“He used to fly with his wife, Ginny, under the Bay Bridge and deliver planes that needed engine work to a repair facility in Western Maryland,” Ms. Bulger said. “It gave him an adrenaline rush.”

His son, LeRoy E. Jr., was a helicopter mechanic assigned to the 101st Airborne Division based in Duc Phu, Vietnam. Critically wounded during a nighttime attack on the base, the younger Mr. Shanklin died a year later in 1968. He was 19 and received the Purple Heart.

“My father never got over it,” his daughter said.

Gold Star Father Leroy Shanklin of Bel Air places a wreath to honor veterans during the Veterans Day ceremony Sunday in front of the statue honoring Veteran and Bel Air resident Captain H. Merle Bailey at the Bel Air Memorial Gardens.
Leroy E. “Roy” Shanklin, of Bel Air, places a wreath to honor veterans during the Veterans Day ceremony at the Bel Air Memorial Gardens in 2018. (Staff file)

As a result of his son’s death, Mr. Shanklin became an active member of American Legion Post 39 and volunteered at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Cecil County.

“For 39 years, he and my mother, who was a Gold Star Mother, presented a Memorial Day wreath at services,” Ms. Bulger said. “He was 98 when he laid his last wreath.”

He was married for 72 years to Mildred Virginia “Ginny” Streett, who died in 2016.

Mr. Shanklin enjoyed wildfowl hunting, fishing, trapping and archery and had established an archery club with a few friends. He was also an avid collector of duck decoys, which he also repaired.

Gaining centenarian status meant that Mr. Shanklin kept busy.

His motto was, ‘Don’t stop moving or you can’t,” his daughter said.

“At breakfast, he always set daily goals for himself. He worked every day and up until a month before his death was on his John Deere tractor mowing, raking and doing yardwork. He was 99 when he had his last vegetable garden,” she said. “He was just a very goal-oriented person.”

Mr. Shanklin abstained from alcohol but did allow himself a daily luxury of one Dutch Masters Palma cigar, his daughter said.

“He didn’t go in for fancy cigars, but liked his Dutch Masters,” she said.

Mr. Shanklin attended church weekly and was an active member of Grandview Christian Church at 2022 Fallston Road in Fallston, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Interment will be in Bel Air Memorial Gardens.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a brother, Robert Shanklin of Fulton; two grandsons; a granddaughter; three great-grandsons; five great-granddaughters; two great-great-grandsons; and a great-great-granddaughter.

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