When it came to fighting in a world war, running a successful business or mapping out progress for Northwest Indiana, Ben Konsynski was a shining member of the Greatest Generation.
As a pilot in World War II, Konsynski was captain of a B-24 that he christened as the Flame McGoon.
"It became the highest decorated plane in the 376th Heavy Bomber Group," said his son, Benn Konsynski, adding that his dad earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.
Ben R. Konsynski, 95, of Tucson, Ariz., formerly of Hammond, died March 1.
Instead of the 25 missions required to complete service, Konsynski and his crew doubled their effort with 50 missions.
After that 50th run, Konsynski was one short due to an illness on a previous flight.
"The whole crew demanded to go on the next mission — though none had to — to see him off on his last mission," Benn Konsynski said.
Before entering the war, Konsynski trained with the Flame McGoon in the states.
"He buzzed Towle Avenue — where his parents lived — before going overseas," said Konsynski's friend of 67 years, Fabian Zaskowski.
Konsynski took over his dad's Hammond business, North Side Bakery, after the war and ran it until the late 1960s, Zaskowski noted.
After that, he ran a big urban renewal project, then became a district manager for the Indiana Department of Revenue.
He then devoted almost 12 years with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission before retiring to Tucson in 1981.
While living in Arizona, Konsynski never forgot about his former home.
"My father held Hammond, and the region, close to his heart and spoke often of trying to make one more visit," his son said.