LT Otis Milton Ririe
Sixth Air Force, 26th Fighter Command,
51st Fighter Squadron
Killed 8 December, 1944
Panama Canal Zone
-- Carolyn Ririe Lofgren --
"Milt" Ririe, born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, grew up in Skiatook, Oklahoma. His lineage was rooted
and prominent in Osage Indian and French history of the area. He was known to most as an excellent
student and athlete. While attending Skiatook High School, his talent and athletic ability earned him
the coveted "All State" title by sportswriters. He also earned the nickname "Pop Ririe" when his
daughters, Carolyn, in 1940, and Sandra, in 1943, were born while he was still a student.
Lt. Ririe entered the Army Air Corps in May, 1944, and after moving from various training bases, received
his wings at Williams Field, Chandler, Arizona and was assigned to the Panama Canal Zone.
Lt. Ririe was trained to fly a P39Q, Airacobra, built by Bell Aircraft. The aircraft was particularly
suited for a coastal low level flight and firing accuracy with nose/prop mounted guns. However, a design
modification locating the engine behind the cockpit of the P39Q created a very unstable situation with
risk of dangerous spins. While on maneuvers, Lt. Ririe was killed in a crash, described by crewmate
eyewitnesses as an unrecoverable spin. The last entry in his flight log simply stated, "this pilot
involved in fatal accident 8 December, 1944. He was nineteen years old!"
Lt. Ririe was buried in the Corozal Cemetery, Canal Zone and brought home to his final resting place in
Memorial Park, National Cemetery, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was honored with a military service May 10,
1948. The flag that draped his coffin was presented to his daughter, Carolyn, at the service.
On a more personal note, I cannot be certain which of my memories of my father are real or inspired by
the stories told to me by my mother and grandparents. His pictures show a very handsome young man with
dark eyes that appear soft and a sideways grin that indicates a private sense of humor. His stance
always seemed to be laid back except in the ones where he is holding me. What I do have and will always
cherish are letters written by his own hand to his little girl whom he feared would forget him. This
memorial is offered as fulfillment of my unspoken promise.