Instrument pilot rating, signed by Col. Laurence Kelley, for whom the 494th BG(H) was named Kelley's Kobras. (Image courtesy of the Turek family.)

Emil Turek was by all accounts an excellent multi-engine pilot. His crew led the squadron on combat missions when the brass learned of Rolf Slen's navigational skills and Vito "Dave" Nacci's performance record as bombardier. Turek was promoted quickly from 2nd Lt to 1st Lt and lastly to Captain. In the jet era, that pace would have earned him recognition as a fast burner. He was awarded at least one field commendation. His humility and the unassuming nature of many accomplished men of his era is evidenced by a statement he once said to his daughter, that "he was just the pilot, the navigators were more important and the really smart ones".  

Capt. Turek’s treasure trove of personal wartime records were crucial to piecing together the story of his service and the roles of many men, planes, and missions of the 866th Bomb Squadron.