Col. Ulysses S. (Sam) Nero (1898-1980) enlisted in the Army in World War I; he was an artilleryman on the Western front. One day an American pilot landed nearby and couldn't restart his engine. Sam got it going. The pilot returned two days later and talked Sam into the U.S. Air Service, where he was promoted to stall sergeant.
Sgt. Nero reenlisted in 1921 and was sent to the Aberdeen Proving Ground where he invented a bombsight and became skilled at using it. He joined Gen. Billy Mitchell's team that in 1921 offshore Virginia demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to aerial bombing. In an exercise off Cape Hatteras in 1923, Nero sank the retired battleship New Jersey with a single 1,100-pound bomb down her funnel. She disappeared in three minutes, 16 seconds. Sam was promoted to master sergeant.
In the Army Air Corps at the time of Pearl Harbor, Sam applied for a commission and got first lieutenant bars on March 30, 1942. He was promoted to captain the next clay, to major on May 17, and a year later to lieutenant colonel. "The best maintenance man in the Air Corps, Sam was assigned as maintenance officer to 8-24 groups in North Africa.
Volunteering for duty in Korea in 1951, Nero served as Maintenance & Material officer of the Fifth Air Force and was promoted to full colonel.
Highly decorated, Col. Nero retired in 1953 after nearly 35 years of service spanning three wars. He settled in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where he married Agnes Gadow Fisher. Nero died in 1980 and was interred at Arlington Cemetery.
Mrs. Nero resides in Rehoboth.