Major George S. Welch (1918-1954) of Wawaset Park, was America's first World War II air hero. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, he took off in a P-40 Warhawk and shot down four Japanese planes. Some historians believe that two more, mortally damaged, fell into the ocean returning to their carriers.
Flying Bell P-39 Aircobras and Lockheed P-38 Lightnings in the South Pacific, Major Welch scored 12 more victories, making him a triple ace. Richard Bong, America's top ace, said the Delawarean was a much better marksman than he. In a 1944 news conference in the Pentagon, Bong said, "If I could shoot like George Welch, I'd have 75 planes."
After the war, Major Welch became a test pilot for North American Aviation at Edwards Air Force Base, where he tested the Sabre fighter jet series that gave the United States aerial superiority over Korea.
Some observers asserted that in 1947 George Welch, diving an XP-86 Sabre, was first to break the sound barrier. In his book Aces Wild, test pilot Al Blackburn, a contemporary at North American, documents a strong case for this conclusion.
Major Welch died in 1954 testing the F-100 Super Sabre. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
A Peter Hurd painting of Major Welch hangs in Legislative Hall in Dover.
Major Welch was nominated by Charles K. Burns of Newark and Paul L. Cathell, Jr. of Stanton.