Every time I interview a veteran, I am constantly impressed with their amazing experiences, lifelong achievements, their deep sense of patriotism and their love for this great country. Lee Shulman exemplifies everything noble in America.
Lee was born December 12, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan and he attended Central High School, graduating June 1941. Lee’s father was a proud graduate of Purdue University, receiving an engineering degree.
“My toys were slide rules, protractors, compasses, and drafting tables,” he said.
However, his favorite hobby was building model airplanes, which were propelled by rubber bands. Lee also picked up cryptography, even though his heart stayed with airplanes.
Lee excelled in academics and he even learned to type 100 words per minute.
On December 7, 1941, everything changed in Lee’s life, just like every American during that time.
Lee was studying engineering at the University of Michigan and his parents pleaded with him to continue his courses, so he acceded to their wishes for one semester. But in September, 1942, at age 18, duty called and he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to become a pilot.
The Air Corps had other ideas. Lee was first sent to Scott Field, Illinois, and then to Clearwater, Florida for basic training. He was given intelligence and aptitude testing for classification, and from those results he was administered a cryptographic test, which he passed in flying colors. He was abruptly pulled out of basic training and sent to a cryptography school in Pawling, New York.
Lee was sent for overseas duty at Sookerating Air Force Station, India and he received a top secret clearance with explicit instructions to protect classified information. During World War II, Sookerating airfield was used as a transport base by the U.S. Army’s 10th Air Force. Numerous C-46 Commando air crafts flew north into China over the Himalaya Mountains to resupply Allied forces. Sookerating was also used as a combat fighter airfield in 1942 to defend the Assam Valley against Japanese forces advancing from Burma.
While flying to India via Brazil and Africa, Lee came down with malaria and was hospitalized 10 days in Karachi, India.
“The quinine cure was far worse than actually having malaria,” he said.
Finally, Lee rejoined his unit and began deciphering Japanese codes that greatly aided “Merrill’s Marauders,” which became famous for its deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines.
Lee’s unit also assisted Claire Chennault’s famous “Flying Tigers” as they battled the Japanese in the China-Burma-India Theater.
In May of 1943, he was flown to Myitkyna that was just captured by the U.S. Army.
After gathering vital Japanese intelligence, his crew was asked to spot an enemy machine gun nested near the runway. As they took off, looking for the enemy base, they were blasted by machine gun fire and crashed into the jungle. Lee was carried out of the B-25 with a ruptured spine and an injured right eye. He was taken to a military hospital in Lido, Burma. Lee spent three months rehabilitating and a month of rehab in Kasmir, India.
Following Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945, he boarded the USS General Greely and after 26 days, Lee was finally back in the states. While cruising in New York’s harbor, Lee always recalls the band striking up “Sentimental Journey” as Coast Guard fire boats sprayed water celebrating America’s returning troops.
Soon, Lee was at Sheppard Field Air Base in Wichita Falls, Texas where he was debriefed and honorably discharged on Veterans Day in 1945. In January 1946, Lee went back to the University of Michigan, becoming a resident advisor to assist returning veterans and help them adjust to civilian life and to pursue their education. Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in June 1948, a master’s degree in 1953 and a PH.D in clinical psychology in 1975. Lee’s private practice career as a psychologist focused on executive coaching and relationship counseling.
Lee married his wife, Joyce, on October 29, 1967 and not surprisingly, their theme song was (and continues to be) Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive”. He and Joyce have written four books.
The couple has six children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Lee eventually achieved his childhood passion to become a pilot, earning his private pilot’s license in 1958. Over the years, Lee has flown for several organizations. He is one of the few Americans granted the “Wright Brothers Master Pilot” award for his commitment to aviation safety.
Lee and Joyce are co-chairs for Angel Flight West, an organization that covers 14 western states. Lee is also active with the Eagle Scout Alumni Association, Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center and Child and Family Center.
Lee lectures at College of the Canyons and on cruise ships, where you can hear him always reciting the words to “Accentuate the Positive”.
Earlier this year at Camarillo airport, Lee, at age 92, flew a B-25 Bomber for the first time in 70 years. Although he was ecstatic, he could not help but choke up in tears.
Lee and Joyce have resided in Valencia since 1997 and they love the patriotism embraced here by our city leaders and our community.
Bill Reynolds is one of the “Boys of ‘67,” Charlie Company, 4th/47th, 9th Infantry Division and director of veterans affairs for The Signal.
This post was last modified on November 11, 2016, 11:45 am