Descriptive Finding Guide for the Capt. Aram Yervant (Dick) Parunak USN Personal Papers SDASM.SC.10110

Alan Renga
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego 92101

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 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: National Naval Aviation Museum: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force: The National WWII Museum New Orleans:

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


Box 01


Folder 01 – VP-5F

Physical Description: 1 image of flight crew for Coco Solo flight. Photocopy only.

Folder 02 – Summary

Physical Description: Handwritten notes, probably Parunak, describing contents of collection that focus on Greenland. Includes very detailed notes about some of the rescues. Photocopy only.

Folder 03 – Bernt Balchen

Physical Description: 2 photos of Bernt Balchen. Photocopy only. Photos were inscribed with Balchen’s thanks to Parunak.

Folder 04 – Magazine Articles

Physical Description: All articles are about the rescue of the My Gal Sal crew. 2 articles are from 1942 Look and Time magazines. 1 page, entitled War Birds Over Greenland, is from an unidentified comic book. Photocopy only.

Folder 05 – Marrak Point

Physical Description: 7 photos of B-17 crash at Marrak Point, Greenland, June 6-10, 1942. Photocopy only.

Folder 06 – Edgedesminde

Physical Description: 3 photos of B-17 crash at Edgedesminde, Greenland, June 27-28, 1942. Photocopy only.

Folder 07 – My Gal Sal Rescue

Physical Description: Official report on rescue of B-17-E 9032, My Gal Sal, 5 pages. 10 photos, mostly of My Gal Sal operation, one of arctic weather station damaged by bombing, one of moored PBY. A note on one photo indicates rescue photos were taken by Balchen. Photocopy only.

Folder 08 – Citations World War II

Physical Description: Documentation of two citations: a Distinguished Flying Cross for My Gal Sal operation. An Air Medal for anti-submarine duty from November 1943–February 1944. 1 photo of Parunak in dress uniform, possibly at ceremony for Distinguished Flying Cross. Photocopy only.

Folder 09 – Citation from Japan

Physical Description: Translation of wording for The Third Order of the Sacred Treasure, awarded to Parunak in July 1960. 1 photo of Parunak receiving medal from Japanese Admiral Iahara. 1 formal portrait of Parunak. Photocopy only.

Folder 10 – Photo of Squadron VPB - 112

Physical Description: Oversized photo of entire squadron, posed on and around a B-24 at NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco, North Africa. Photocopy only.

Folder 11 – Miscellaneous

Physical Description: Biographical Summary of Paruak, two pages. November 2000 newspaper article from the Newark Ledger. 1 business card belonging to Parunak. 1 photo from Greenland squadron dated 1943. Photocopy only.