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Super Anarchist
Ormer Leslie "Lock" Locklear

This fearless stuntman of the air was a native of Texas, born in Greenville and raised in Forth Worth. The Locklears were a large family and the father supported them with a carpentry and contracting business. Ormer had a zest for adventure from an early age. He loved jumping his bicycle off of ramps, trying to clear the widest gaps he could. The second-long sensation of soaring through the air was endlessly exciting for him.

In 1910 an air show came to Fort Worth, making a big impression on Ormer (this was when airplanes were still a very new technology). The following year he met Calbraith Perry Rogers, a heroic aviator who was in the process of making the first transcontinental U.S. flight (Rogers had stopped in Fort Worth to unclog a fuel line). Officially fascinated by aviation, Ormer worked with his brothers to construct a glider out of fishing poles and linen, demonstrating how well it worked by jumping off the roof of their high school. He further satisfied his appetite for thrills by learning how to do trick motorcycle riding, getting a taste for show business when Harry Houdini himself hired Ormer to drag his body through the Forth Worth streets as he worked to free himself from restraints (as usual, Houdini was successful).

In 1915 he made the slightly inexplicable decision to marry Fort Worth native Ruby Graves, who wasn’t nearly as fond of daredevilry as her new husband was. Her disapproval kept Ormer earthbound until the advent of World War I, when he learned that combat pilots were needed. Eagerly enlisting, he was put in the flight training program in Texas. He instantly took to the thrill of flight, and (being Ormer) took the thrill to the next level by nonchalantly teaching himself how to wingwalk (this was before parachutes were commonplace, by the way).

When officials heard of Ormer’s exploits, instead of punishing him they decided his daring would be a good way to advertise their planes’ safety. He was made a flight instructor and eventually became a lieutenant, but never saw fighting overseas.

When the Great War ended the young pilot stuck with the Air Service so he could keep on flying. He was not only fully proficient at wingwalking, but had figured out how to drop from one flying plane into another–the first person on record to do such a feat. At the time many former war pilots were making a living “barnstorming”–putting on eye-popping aerial stunt shows. Ormer knew he could perform stunts crazier than the ones he saw at those shows, and when he happened to meet the well-connected show promoter William Pickens he decided to dive in and become a professional stunt pilot.

Military friends Milton Elliott and Shirley Short were brought on board to what Pickens dubbed the “Locklear Flying Circus,” which began performing at fairs around the country. As Ormer pulled out all the stops, topping previous stunts whenever he could (one involving a transfer from a car to an airplane almost killed him), his fame began to grow. Pickens spared no expense at marketing his new star, who adored the attention and the excitement of performing.

Soon Pickens had pulled off the best publicity feat of all: he had caught Hollywood’s attention and scored Ormer an offer to star in his own film at Universal. And thus, the young Texan left the fair circuit and took a train to Los Angeles.

Hollywood was buzzing with news of Ormer’s arrival–he was then one of the top names in barnstorming, an almost larger-than-life figure who was tall, athletic, and dashing to boot. He easily ingratiated himself with the stars, frequently offering them rides in his plane. In time he began dating popular Metro actress Viola Dana. A daring young lady herself, she often rode in Ormer’s plane and giddily enjoyed every kind of stunt, from loop the loops to diving under telegraph wires. Later in life she liked to recall how she and Ormer would swoop over Hollywood Boulevard, pelting friends with Viola’s old lipsticks as they rode in their fancy cars below.

Rumors began to swirl that the exciting new couple had eloped, or were about the elope, but Ormer patiently denied them. He likely didn’t want word to get out that Ruby wouldn’t grant him a divorce, even though they had been separated for some time.

His first film, The Great Air Robbery (1919), was about an air mail pilot trying to thwart the plans of the criminal “Death’s Head Squadron.” In the pancake makeup, with his hair slicked back, clean-cut Ormer looked a bit like a cousin of Charles Ray. He made personal appearances in Chicago to help promote the film, and a Moving Picture World writer reported: “When seen last week, Lieut. Locklear stated that he was infatuated with moving picture work and that he has made more real friends and has had greater happiness than he ever dreamed of since entering this field.”

The Great Air Robbery was a big success, but Universal scrapped plans to make more Ormer Locklear pictures (perhaps because he was almost arrested for mischievously swooping over the streets of L.A.). But then William Fox made him an offer to make The Skywayman, about a pilot with amnesia who’s hired to track down some Russian jewel thieves, and Ormer gratefully accepted.

Moving Picture World wrote on March 13 of 1920:

[Ormer] appeared to be well satisfied that his future is assured in the moving picture business and he has fully made up his mind to remain in it. When he makes his next appearance on the screen he promises to surpass his feats in “The Great Air Robbery” by still more daring exploits, some that have never before been attempted by any other flyer.

The Skywayman was supposed to feature less stuntwork than normal, minimizing risk by using miniatures whenever possible. But Ormer bristled at the idea of faking stunts, insisting (essentially) that he be allowed to risk his life as usual. Studio head Sol M. Wurtzel finally gave in, but told Ormer he had to save his most dangerous stunt–a nighttime nosedive with magnesium flares simulating flames–for the very last day of filming, just in case something went wrong.

That day arrived on August 2, 1920. Ormer wanted to actually do the stunt at night–even though it could be shot in the daylight and the scene tinted to simulate darkness. At 10 p.m., as Viola and other friends and coworkers looked on, he took off from the DeMille airfield with assistant Milton Elliott. Once they reached 3,000 feet, Ormer did several stunts while lit by spotlights and then began the last, most thrilling stunt of all–the climax of the picture. As everyone watched, he put the plane into a spinning nosedive as the magnesium flares on the wings burst to fiery life.

In an interview in her old age, Viola vividly recalled what happened next:

…He had said to the director, “When I get down to the level of the oil wells, take the lights off me, the sunlight arcs, take those lights off me, and I’ll know where I am. I can come out of it.” And he went into the tailspin and they never took the lights off him…I guess there was practically nothing left of him, ’cause those Jennys, you know, are very fragile…Somebody picked me up, I started to run for the plane and somebody said “Grab her, grab her and take her home.” I guess I was kind of crazy, I couldn’t believe what had happened. And when you’re young, those things are very shocking. I don’t even like to talk about it.

For whatever reason, the spotlights that were supposed to be turned off to signal when Ormer had reached 500 feet had stayed on. Disoriented and unable to pull out of the nosedive, Ormer and Milton slammed into an oil well sump. Thrown violently from the crashed plane, the two died instantly.

BTW - Ormer Leslie "Lock" Locklear took out two church steeples, in his flying excapades. This particular stunt should be on a movie called The Skywayman. Can't seem to find it online unfortunately. This stunt did not kill him, but another different type of stunt did a few months later in 1920. Unfortunately, after more digging, neither of Ormer’s two films survive today, and the name of the restless, energetic, adventure-seeking young man has largely faded into the mists of time.

Dana was so traumatized by the event that she refused to fly for the next 25 years. In 1980, Dana recalled her relationship with Locklear and also spoke about his fatal crash in the documentary Hollywood.

Ormer Locklear.jpg

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Super Anarchist
My pop was a a forward artillery observer in Korea.
I didn’t know about his actions till I was perusing his photo albums as a teenager. There was a citation/award for his actions. It said the enemy broke through the forward lines and he called in accurate artillery fire in top of his own position to counter the breakthrough which it did. Then as they retreated he moved with them continuing to call in accurate coordinates which ensured they could not mount another effort.

I asked him about it and he said its no big deal….some people did a lot more and it was obvious that conversation was over.

When I was a paramedic I was continually amazed at the things hanging on the “memory walls” in the homes of many elderly people I took care of. You just never knew.

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My Dad was a radioman in the Navy. His first orders were for the Pacific Fleet. Then as a radioman for the amphib assault and invasion of Guam. Then he was sent to Okinawa, at the end of the war. He survived a typhoon in Buckner Bay, Okinawa when 22 ships sunk and 222 grounded, with 32 severely damaged. He was then sent back to Guam, where he spent the rest of his tour as radioman for the Fleet Support Guam. He didn't want to talk anymore about his wartime experiences beyond that.

When my Dad passed away in 2015, my youngest brother and my sister wrote a brief obit, saying he was in the US Navy, then became an electrical engineer. Then went back to school to learn advances in communication. Raised a family, liked skiing, golf, bike riding and remodeling houses. That's it, that's all they wrote. So I sat down an wrote a real obit about his whole life and posted it to his Facebook page as follows:

My Dad, passed away this morning. Born in Walnut Grove, CA his formative years he grew up in and about Burley, ID. The family moved to Portland during the war years where my Dad finished high school early and joined the US Navy when he was 17. After finishing boot camp in San Diego, and then Basic Electricity & Electronics Practice School in Gulfport, MS, his first orders were for the Pacific Fleet at Guam. He survived a typhoon in Buckner Bay, Okinawa when 22 ships sunk and 222 grounded, with 32 severely damaged. He was then sent to Guam, where he spent the majority of his tour as radioman for the Fleet Support Guam. After his discharge he went to work for Bell Telephone as a switch station maintenance tech.

He met my mother who was a switchboard operator shortly thereafter and they married inside of a year. They bought a small house in Kirkland, WA. Next they had two boys one right after the other, followed by a girl, my older brother, my self and my younger sister.. While supporting his young growing family, he went to college at night, studying Electrical Engineering and finance.

My Dad always had wanderlust and didn't like settling in any one place for too long. He felt the best way to move up in the world, is not to become complacent with one company. Nor would state borders confine him. He liked camping, boating and water sports, fishing, Sunday drives and long road trips. But mosty of all, he enjoyed fishing in his early years, and in later years a good round of golf. My older brother and myself were introduced to fishing at an early age. Saturday mornings in those days, meant getting up early at 3:30 in the AM, going out to breakfast then launching a boat either in Mulkiteo or Everett, then fishing all day till dark.

My Dad's motto, "the best time to look for job, is when you have a job." In '57 West Coast Telephone hired him to the main office in Everett, WA. Shortly thereafter he bought a home in Everett, for the first of more then a few moves when I was a child. My younger brothers were born when we lived there. I loved Everett and spent a lot of time in the company of my grandparents, Harry and Frances Nelsen, mostly accompanying my grandpa Harry.

In '61 he was offered the #2 position at West Coast Telephone's office in Hillsboro, OR. We had family in Portland, and my Dad's closest sister lived there with her husband Elmer, and at the time, two children my cousins. However my mom didn't like leaving the Puget Sound area, nor did my older brother Ken and myself. However we made the best of it as a family. Spending much time visiting relatives and camping at one of my Dad's favorite areas, the Oregon coast and my Mom's favorite Cannon Beach. There was money to be made in Hilsboro for us kids, picking strawberries, cucumbers and walnuts.

Dad didn't see eye to eye with WCT's Hillsboro office manager. So he formed a consulting Communications Electrical Engineering firm. Their first project was the microwave communication installations in New Mexico and Arizona. He was away from home a lot on that project, including missing the Columbus Day Storm of '62. We were expecting him home the day of the storm. A Cessna 150 was parked in the sky over our house, trying to buck the winds to land at Hillsboro airport. We though it was our Dad's partner's Cessna 150 which they used to fly back and forth to the desert. But they put down in Nevada to wait out the storm.

Not liking being gone from the family to much; in '63 he sent out his résumé again. Two offers that he received back, offered better pay and relocation costs. One was for WCT in Anchorage, AK , the other was from GT&E to their Las Vegas office (GT&E acquired WCT in '64.) My Dad liked the desert climate and chose GT&E Las Vegas. So we prepared the home to be sold and Dad bought a '63 Country Sedan Wagon off the show room floor at the Ford Dealership in Portland.

Off to Vegas we went, settling in a used home in N. Las Vegas the spring of '63, while we waited for a new home to be built. Something went awry with the builder on our new home, so Dad cancelled the contract and found another builder. The new home in S. Las Vegas was finished the spring of '64 and we moved before the school year was over, and us kids were enrolled in our 4th grade school in five years. The next year Dad & Mom decided to enroll us kids in our fifth school, a Lutheran private school. Ever the fisherman, it was up early at 3:30AM on Saturdays for breakfast at the Showboat Hotel & Casino, followed by morning Rainbow Trout fishing on the Colorado River, below Hoover Dam.

My Mom grew weary of Las Vegas and longed to return to the Northwest. Seeing this, Dad put out his résumé again. The Communication Electrical consulting firm of TIC Engineers hired him the spring of '65 for the RCA Satellite Communication Network being installed in Alaska. Mom was ecstatic and us older kids couldn't wait to return to our beloved PNW. Dad bought a house in the spring of '65 in Richmond Beach and we moved north shortly thereafter, in time to finish the school year at Saint Matthew Lutheran School. He spent a lot of time the first two years working on the RCA project in Alaska. Once the project was finished, he put out his résumé again and GT&E snatched him back to work at the corporate office in Everett.

After living in the NW longer then we had lived anywhere, Dad started getting itchy feet to move again, once again sending out his résumé. United Telecommunications sent him an offer he couldn't refuse at their main office in Kansas City, for a quarter again more pay as before, as VP of Separations and Settlements. Not wishing to leave the NW again, I moved out of the family home and across the water to Kingston, from where I commuted the end of my senior year in high school.

The family stayed in Kansas City for about three years. My Mom left Kansas City after less then a year and returned to live in Everett and my parents divorced shortly thereafter. Dad remarried his best friend from High School sister Jan in 1974. Shortly thereafter Dad put out his résumé again and was hired by Continental Telephone in Bakersfield, CA as VP of the Southwest Operations.

The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada up until that point. All the telephone companies sent their representatives, with Dad's knowledge in Separations and Settlements, Continental picked Dad for this task. Dad and Jan moved to Atlanta, GA where the breakup was initially being managed. They bought a home there and settled in for two years, till he was asked to move to New Jersey to handle the breakup in the Northeast. Finishing that task two years later, they returned to Atlanta for a year to manage the final separations and settlements.

Shortly thereafter he retired the first time and they moved to Pennsylvania. Bored with retirement life, he started a new consulting firm, helping smaller telephone companies become economically viable. In the early '90s they sold their home back east and moved to Gig Harbor, WA, from where he operated his consulting business till he was 75. This allowed him to mix travel with business and pleasure, since most of his clients were on the east coast. Much of these years were spent traveling nationally, as well as internationally. His primary hobby during this period was golf. He had a passion for carpentry and was always remodeling the various homes over the years. He always liked landscaping, and every home we had, meant considerable time was spent landscaping and gardening. It goes without saying, but those closest to him knew, he liked a surgically mowed, edged, clean and spotlessly neat yard, trimmed flowers, bushes and gardens. However, we know who kept that all up in the early years, me and my older brother Eire.

In 2002 they sold their Gig Harbor home and moved to a condo he purchased in downtown Portland. They eventually found a home in Troutdale, OR close to a golf course and would live there for about ten years. He religiously golfed two or three times a week, walking the course. His main hobbies during this time in his life were golf, biking and skiing. He hung up his skis when he was 75 and stopped riding bikes when he was about 80.

It wasn't till the past few years that his heart couldn't handle the walking and negotiated the courses via a golf cart. He gave up golf two years ago, and started declining shortly after that. Last year they decided to move back to the Puget Sound area, selling their home in Troutdale and moved to a retirement home in Everett. This past year Jan had to be placed in a special care facility, due to Alzheimer disease. Dad didn't like being separated from his wife Jan. Though he visited her weekly, the separation took it's toll and he slowly went downhill from there. The past few months, he was just tired of it all, had made his peace with his Lord and was ready to move on to the next phase in his journey.

He is survived by his wife Jan, all his and her children, who had a passel of grandchildren, who had a passel of great grandchildren. Talking with my brothers and sister today, we remembered him as a good man, who tried to do the best for his family and extended family. He left his mark and will be missed.


During his last year, when his wife was placed in home for those with dementia - he was ready to hang up his spurs. His wife still knew him, and he cared for his wife, but in those type of care facilities, they don't let you visit your wife without being accompanied. There in was the problem, and my Dad told me he was ready to go.

I talked with him a lot his last year, but he didn't want to talk about and relive any of those wartime experiences. We did talk about everything from his childhood and on throughout his life - but he never like to talk about the war or his work.

I had two Godfathers, who were also like fathers to me, from the PNW, both flyers, who I maintained contact with till they passed - I called both Godfathers, father. One a Naval Aviator who flew Corsairs at first, then Hellcats from carriers in the South Pacific, then the Navy moved their squadron VF-17 to a land base. My godfather who had experience in Hellcats as well, transferred to the squadron VF-18 Hellcats which replaced them. He probably should have stayed with VF-17 as he lost an eye, after he and his plane was shot up and tried to return to the carrier the USS Bunker Hill, landed, bounced a few times, missed the arresting wires and splashed his Hellcat in the sea. He talked about his time in much more then my Dad ever did.

My other Godfather was in the Army Air Corp flying in B-17s, flew over 25 missions and returned to the states. He didn't talk much about his time in or his missions, other then they were very scary and harrowing. The only thing he said, "his whole crew was always shook about the next coming mission - and made a pact not to discuss coming missions other then their duties - everyone knew you didn't want to fall out of formation - because if you did, most likely you'd get shot down."

I suspect most that were traumatized by their wartime experiences - didn't want to talk about their experiences, because they didn't want to relive them.

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What a coincidence! My Dad was assigned to be in charge of the radio station on the far end of Guam. I guess washing out of flight school earned him that lonely post. Must have regained some of his career hopes when he started playing doubles tennis with the Captain in charge on Guam. He told me that tennis and basketball were probably the only thing that helped him eventually make Captain himself and stay in the Navy for 27 years.

Navy shipped my Mom and I out to Guam about 6 months after he got to the island. I was 6 months old and my Dad used to arrange Sunday picnics at the waterfall at the top of the island for the team on his post. He said it was a long hot hike up the mountain and everyone would put their coolers and picnic baskets down when they got to the pool below the waterfall and immediately jump in the brisk waters for a swim and cool down. Then the ladies would start to set out the food and there would always be a missing Tupperware of fried chicken or mashed potatoes missing. At first they would think that the missing food had been left on the kitchen counter back home but not found when returning home.

It was not until years later that a Japanese soldier from WW2 was found hiding in a cave all those years. He was still himself to some good old American comfort food and also snagged a Sunday paper in which he read about the newly crowned Japanese Emperor and he came to the conclusion that the Emperor was not divine as his brothers at arms had always been taught to believe!



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