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Parunak (Capt. Aram Yervant Dick) Personal Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Related Materials

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
    Title: Capt. Aram Yervant (Dick) Parunak USN Personal Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10110
    Physical Description: 0.21 Cubic Feet 1 box 15”x2.5”x10.
    Date (inclusive): 1910-2007
    Abstract: Capt. Aram Y. (Dick) Parunak, USN (1910–2007) was a U.S. Navy pilot during World War II, who became the first pilot to land and takeoff on Greenland’s ice cap during the rescue of the crew of a crashed B-17. In just over a month, Parunak was pilot for four such rescues.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The materials in this Collection were donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item], [Filing Unit], [Series Title], [Subgroups], [Record Group Title and Number], [Repository “San Diego Air & Space Museum Library & Archives”]

    Biographical / Historical

    Parunak was born in Freehold, New Jersey, July 10, 1910. He attended Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1933 with a B.S. degree in math and physics.
    Parunak joined the US Navy Aviation Cadet program in 1935 and received his wings in December 1936. He was assigned to the fleet in Coco Solo, Canal Zone, Panama as a P2Y-2 pilot.
    From 1939 until June 1941, Parunak was a pilot/instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Next, he was reassigned to VP-93 at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. After Pearl Harbor he was assigned to PBY-5s and moved to Naval Air Station Argentia, Newfoundland for convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare.
    In 1942 Parunak, then a lieutenant was named head of a three-plane unit of PBY-5As at Bluie West 8, a base in northwestern Greenland above the Arctic Circle. He was under the command of U.S. Army Air Corps Lt.Col. Bernt Balchen, the noted polar aviator and explorer. These bases were established to allow the U.S. Army to route supplies to England over Greenland to reduce contact with German U-Boats. The area made for difficult flying conditions. Parunak frequently flew Balchen and his rescue team to crash sites. Between June 10 and July 18, 1942 they rescued the crews of three B-17s and one AT-6.
    Parunak earned recognition as the first pilot to land and take off from the Greenland ice cap, during the rescue of the crew of the US Army Air Corps. B-17-E 9032 My Gal Sal, which crashed June 27, 1942. His efforts in this rescue earned Parunak the Distinguished Flying Cross. The B-17, recovered and restored, is now on display in the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
    From 1942–45 Parunak was assigned to various squadrons including commands of anti-submarine patrols in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. Near the end of the war, Parunak married Orianna Van Dyke. After the war, he stayed in the navy and in 1955 was promoted to the rank of captain. Parunak took command of the U.S. Naval Air Station at Atsugi, Japan in 1958. For his contributions in re-building American-Japanese relations, Emperor Hirohito ordered Captain Parunak decorated with the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure. Parunak retired from the Navy in 1961 then worked for General Electric Space Research in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania for ten years as manager of facilities and maintenance.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection consists of 1 box 15”x2.5”x10. The focus of this collection is Parunak’s duties in Greenland. This collection was housed in a non-archival quality notebook. It was unclear if the organization was determined by the donor, or by a previous archivist. The collection has been kept close to that order. Everything in the collection is a photocopy, there are no originals. Some of the copies have handwritten notes that may be from Parunak.

    Related Materials

    Bernt Balchen Special Collection http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/sets/72157634381238098/ Related Research Institutions:
    Secondary Sources: Balchen, Bernt . Come North With Me: An Autobiography: (New York, E.P Dutton & Co., INC, 1958) Glines, Carroll V. Bernt Balchen: (Washington & London, Smithsonian Press, 1999) Arlington National Cemetery website: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/ayparunak.htm National Naval Aviation Museum: http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/get-involved/charter-memoriam/charter-memoriam-entry/?id=7200 National Museum of the U.S. Air Force: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1245 The National WWII Museum New Orleans: http://www.nationalww2museum.org/us-freedom-pavilion-the-boeing-center/boeing-b-17-flying-fortress.html

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Family
    Consolidated B-24 Liberator Family
    Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina
    United States. Army. Air Corps
    Patrol Squadron 5 (VP-5)
    Patrol Squadron 112 (VP-112, VPB-112)
    Parunak, Capt. Aram (Dick)
    Balchen, Bernt