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Harry Freeman Snyder

Alvadore, Oregon

January 10, 2009

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
90 Navy Lt. Cmdr.

Fleet Intelligence Command in Europe


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February 14, 2009

Harry wanted to fly airplanes and so enlisted in the Navy. He got out of boot camp Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941. Harry went to sea in the Aleutians, where he narrowly escaped the strafing of Japanese Zero bullets. For the next three and half years, he sought flight training and received his wings on VJ Day, August 15, 1945. As a Navy reservist, Harry attended Michigan State University for three years. Lacking one credit toward a degree, he was called back to regular Navy and flew off many carriers around the world. On a flight training mission, he was the only survivor of a mid-air collision. Harry was assigned to Fleet Intelligence Command in Europe.
A Little About Harry's Life

Harry Freeman Snyder was born on November 26, 1918 in Richmond, Michigan. He was the only child of Esbon and Tillie (Wagner) Snyder. Harry died on January 10, 2009 in Springfield, Oregon; he was 90 years of age.
As a child Harry attended five county schools and graduated from Memphis, Michigan high school in 1937. There he played football, basketball, and baseball. There was some doubt that he could attend high school because of cost until Lloyd Sharrard, a lifetime friend, and his mother made it affordable by providing books. Harry walked six miles by road or five miles through fields each way, as he could not afford the two dollars per month for car transportation.
Upon graduation, Harry worked on farms, steamboats that plied the Great Lakes, did carpenter work, delivered coal around Flint, Michigan, molded engine parts for General Motors in Pontiac, and began to work for Detroit Edison. 
Deep down, however, Harry wanted to fly airplanes so on October 9, 1941 he enlisted in the Navy. When World War II broke out he was sent to Sand Point in Seattle for training in aviation ordnance. In a V-5 program, in which there was no need for college credit, Harry applied for ground flight school that would teach him to fly at the same time. In 1942 he was stationed at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians, where he ran a gunnery shop. Harry and a buddy narrowly escaped strafing during one of the two attacks by Japanese Zeros. In October 1943 Harry reported to William Jewel College in Kansas City, Mo. for three months of flight training and then to the University of Colorado, where he made his first solo flight.
In March, 1944 Harry went to St. Mary’s College in Oakland, California. On March 22, his father died of a heart attack. The transportation home would be costly, but his battalion commander called him into his office and handed him an envelope containing $200 gathered by his caring comrades. After further training Harry received his wings on VJ Day, August 15, 1945. At Daytona Beach he received training in SB2C dive bombers and was assigned to the Aircraft Carrier Midway. 
Harry got out of the Navy January 1, 1947 and resumed working with Detroit Edison. In 1950 he went to college at Michigan State under the GI Bill and continued his studies for nearly three years. As a reservist, he became a lieutenant in June 1952. He was called back to the Navy January 1, 1953 for the Korean War. While serving on the USS Wright, Harry made a celebrated 49,000 carrier landing on the Wright in an AD5 March 24, 1954. Then was deployed to Europe on the carrier Randolph.
On August 3, 1956 Harry, as an instructor, and a student named Ryan took off from Corpus Christy in a North American T28 trainer. At 12,000 feet another T28 collided with their plane. Ryan bailed out, was struck by the tail and died, as did the pilots in the other plane. Harry parachuted and landed safely, though with injury to his knees.
Harry became a Lieutenant Commander on July 1, 1957 and was assigned to intelligence school in Washington D.C. He was then assigned to Fleet Intelligence Command in Europe, based in London and later Paris.
In December 1964 Harry met Betty Lou Ruble on a ski holiday in Arosa, Switzerland. Betty Lou was a purser flying with Pan American with Paris being a frequent destination. Harry and Betty Lou began dating in Paris. After being transferred stateside in January 1966 Harry was able to thumb rides on flights to New York so as to get together with Betty Lou. They were married October 8, 1966 in New York City, with a honeymoon in Barbados and Antigua.
A daughter, Nicole Renee was born on Harry’s forty-ninth birthday, November 26, 1967 and a son, Matthew Lafayette was born on September 21, 1969.
In 1969 Harry made and expedition to Oregon to search for a new home He bought properties in Alvadore and on the McKenzie River. The family arrived in Oregon January 1970.
In Oregon, Harry entered upon a second career in real estate, first with Bell Real Estate, and then with Cougill and Hansen for many years. After retiring in 2000, his primary interest was in his children and grandchildren. He spared no effort or expense in locating just the right place for Matt to live and made countless trips to visit him in Kentucky and to escort him home to Alvadore for special occasions. Nicole grew to become his business protégé. His delight in his grandsons was boundless.
In Memphis, Michigan, Harry became a Mason. He belonged to the Elks in Eugene, the Military Officers Association, where he served as President, and Shadow Hills Country Club. He served on the board of the Pearl Buck Center and participated in his local Neighborhood Watch. Harry was a member of the Alvadore Christian Church and had a keen interest in youth programs. He was a fisherman, bird hunter, Duck football season ticket subscriber, and a member of Court Sports for many years.
Survivors include his wife: Betty Lou; two children: Nicole Schultz of Veneta and Matthew of Frankfort, Kentucky; and two grandchildren: Ryan and Jarrett Schultz of Veneta.

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