Professor Laura Wendling honored by President George H. W. Bush who writes Forward in her book “On Heroic Wings: Stories of the Distinguished Flying Cross”

“President George H. W. Bush is especially in our thoughts today and I thought you  would like to know that my co-author and I were honored when President Bush wrote the Foreword to our 2012 book, On Heroic Wings: Stories of the Distinguished Flying Cross,” said Dr. Laura Wendling, Professor in the School of Education.


As a Professor of Social Studies Curriculum & Instruction in the School of Education, Dr. Laura Wendling spent 10 years researching and writing the book On Heroic Wings: Stories of the Distinguished Flying Cross, co-authored with Dr. Barry Lanman, University of Maryland.



The book’s Foreword was written by President George H. W. Bush ’41, where he states, “As a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II, I hold this honor in high regard.” He proudly notes that the recipients of the DFC, who come from a wide range of backgrounds representing a microcosm of America, put their country above their own lives to change the course of history.  The compelling stories, based on 130 oral history interviews, illuminate America’s highest aviation medal, beginning with Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, then spanning the eras from World War II, Korea, Vietnam to more recent events such as Hurricane Katrina, Iraq and Afghanistan.


Dr. Wendling also served as a research consultant on the documentary film, Distinguished Wings Over Vietnam, based on her book, which first aired on KPBS television in 2017 to coincide with the Ken Burns’ film series on Vietnam.  The film focused on the personal accounts of four combat pilots who served in the Vietnam War, flying helicopters to jets, revealing how they felt risking their lives in an unpopular war.  They share emotional stories about their missions, close calls, and how they were treated when they returned to California.

In 2018, the California Council for the Social Studies recognized Dr. Wendling’s contributions by presenting her with the Outstanding Higher Education Teacher award.

To contact Dr. Wendling, please email her at

Marilyn Huerta
Communication Specialist

College of Education, Health & Human Services
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