Loren Eugene “Gene” Orr, who grew up and graduated from Rushville High School, passed away on Nov. 12, 2013 at the age of 87. Gene rejoins his wife of 57 years Martha Jane Orr, and leaves a proud legacy with four sons and 11 grandchildren.
He was a great friend, husband, father, and our American hero.
Gene Orr was born in Monrovia in 1926 to Orris and Edith Orr. His family relocated to Rushville at an early age for his Dad’s work opportunities at the International Furniture Company. He was the oldest of four boys and started working at age 12 (placing pins at the Rushville Bowling Center) to help the family. He played football, basketball, and ran track throughout grade school, initially to be able to take a shower indoors with his home having no internal plumbing. After leading Rushville High School to the area football championship as their quarterback, Gene graduated and was drafted at age 18. Gene completed basic training and then Advanced Airborne training in the spring of 1945, ready for the war in the Pacific as a paratrooper jumping with the 155 Howitzer artillery. Following the war, Gene returned to Ft. Benning as an Airborne instructor and then took advantage of the GI Bill and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, graduating from Miami of Ohio University in 1951. He met his life partner ‘Janey’ at Miami University and they would be married in April 1953.
Gene was commissioned as an Air Force 2nd Lieutenant in 1951 and began training as a Bombardier-Navigator, quickly qualifying in the B-25 and B-26. Gene was deployed to site ‘K-14’ in Korea and flew combat missions off the coast of China for the 11th Tactical Recon Wing. As the Korean War raged, Gene’s unit relocated to the Philippines and he rapidly qualified on the B-29 and C-119 for combat missions until war’s end. Gene returned to the U.S. in early 1953 to marry Janey and they began a 3-year whirlwind of assignments in South Carolina, Washington, Texas, California and Kansas. Gene’s diverse flying experience earned his selection for the B-47 and they were assigned to the 379 Bomb Wing at Homestead AFB Florida in early 1956. It was clearly a happy time for Gene and Jane, with Tom, Andy, and Jeff all born during their time at Homestead.