He received 59 medals during his career, and his 253 combat missions are considered the most ever by a Marine pilot.
After his retirement, he worked for Lockheed Aircraft, where he helped develop the U-2 spy plane, and then the Piasecki Helicopter Co. Retiring to his native Oregon, he was active in veterans groups.
He and his wife, Trudy, made headlines in 2004 when they defiantly refused to leave their home after it went into foreclosure. The couple had lost much of their retirement savings in a high-risk investment and then a swindle by a bookkeeper. Ultimately they were forced to obey a court order.
Now that you know the backstory on this, read what Trudy Reusser did.
Formerly homeless vet finds a place in a widow's heart and home
Published: Tuesday, December 25, 2012
By Mike Francis
If there's one thing on which everyone -- activists, columnists, elected officials, cabinet secretaries, even the president of the United States -- seems to agree, it's that Americans should support military veterans.
Bind their wounds. Give them jobs. Provide them counseling. Welcome them home. Easy to say, harder to do.
This is the story of one welcoming. It involves a 73-year-old Milwaukie widow and her housemate, a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran.
She was married for almost 35 years to a legendary military aviator, living in a place she and her husband built before he died three years ago.
And he is her helper, sleeping in a warm bed in her spare bedroom, out of the cold and the rain since she invited him in.
If Trudy Reusser and Norm Gotovac seem an unlikely pair, that's because you don't know Reusser.
"She is a wonderful lady," says her friend, Kay Saddler of Hemlock, Ore. "She would give the shirt off her back and the shoes and socks off her feet if it would help a veteran."
Reusser. Why is that name familiar?
Military history buffs will know instantly: Ken Reusser is the most decorated Marine pilot in history. He displayed extraordinary bravery in combat not once, but repeatedly, across decades. He is, it is believed, the only pilot to have survived being downed in World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam. He was awarded the Navy Cross twice, the Legion of Merit with V twice, the Distinguished Flying Cross five times, four Purple Hearts and numerous other commendations.
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