2011-02-10 / Obituaries

Lt. Col. Arthur Mimler

Lt. Col. (retired) Arthur Mathew Mimler, a decorated WWII fighter pilot, POW, career USAF officer and rancher, passed away on Jan. 31, at Mercy Medical Center in Merced. He was 87.

Born on April 21, 1923 in Bargaintown, New Jersey to immigrants Frank and Anna Mimler, Col. Mimler was en route to a career as a New Jersey State Trooper when World War II broke out and he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in 1941. After basic training at Mitchell Field in Long Island, NY, he received aircraft maintenance training at the New England Aircraft School in Boston, MA before being transferred to Grenier Field in Manchester, NH. In 1943, he began his pilot training at Memphis Field in Memphis, TN and completed his advanced pilot training at Grenier Field in May of 1943. As part of the 363rd Fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force, he flew combat missions from Rivenhall Field in Essex and Staplehurst Field in Kent, including three combat missions on D-Day, across the English Channel. While flying his P51D Mustang , Col. Mimler was shot down during his 43rd combat mission over Bazougers, France in June 1944, leaving him to escape by parachute. He hid in the French countryside with the help of local townspeople. He was a prisoner of war for 11 months and after attempting several times to escape, was finally released in May 1945 when the allies liberated his camp in Mooseburg, Germany. Col. Mimler returned to Bazougers, France in 1997 where he was honored by the families of those who aided him following his plane crash in 1944.

Following World War II, Col. Mimler married Thena Knight in June 1946 in Manchester, NH. They then moved to Anchorage, AK, where he was stationed at Ellendorf AFB, then to McGuire AFB in Wrightstown, NJ. In 1955, Col. Mimler was called to active duty and served in Korea as a flight training officer. After the Korean War ended, he was stationed at Ethan Allen AFB in Vermont before being transferred to Madrid, Spain in 1960 as the aircraft maintenance training officer and advisor to the Spanish Air Force. He was stationed at Castle AFB in Atwater in 1963 where he served as the chief of maintenance before he was sent to Venezuela in 1965 where he was the commander of the Venezuelan Air Force as part of an international effort to reorganize the FAV (Fuerza Aerea Venezolana). Col. Mimler retired from the United States Air Force in 1969. Among his many honors, medals, awards and certificates, Col. Mimler received the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

After his retirement, Col. Mimler moved to his ranch in Cathey’s Valley and raised horses, cattle, and sheep. He devoted himself to his community as a founding member of the Cathey’s Valley Volunteer Fire Department and manager of the Cathey’s Valley Cemetery. He was a member of the VFW Post #6049, American Legion Post #0567, the Mariposa County Farm Bureau, and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He was a director of the Castle Air Museum and the Mariposa Airport and served for 45 years as a representative from Mariposa County on the Area Board VIII for the State Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Col. Mimler was preceded in death by his parents: Frank & Anna Mimler; brother, Herbert Mimler; and sisters Margaret Speyrer, Amelia LaCroix, and Helen Bartley.

He is survived by his wife, Thena, of Cathey’s Valley; his daughter and her husband, Cathi and Mitch Boze of Cathey’s Valley; daughter, Karen Mimler of Fresno; and granddaughter, Tanya Mimler Parker of Cathey’s Valley.

The memorial service will be held on Feb. 10, at 11 a.m. at the Cathey’s Valley Cemetery Pavilion. Arrangements are entrusted to the Stratford Evans Funeral Home of Merced.

As Col. Mimler was thankful for the aid that the Red Cross had given him as a POW during WWII, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, any donations in his name be made to the American Red Cross.

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