Obituary of Wesley B. Prather
Wesley B. Prather passed away at the Golden Empire Nursing and Rehab Center on Saturday, May 11, 2019. He was 97. A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2019 at Sierra Memorial Lawn in Nevada City. Reception to follow the service.
Wesley was born on October 27, 1921 in San Mateo, CA to Byron and Luella Prather. He graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco and later attended San Francisco Junior College while flying in the Army’s Civilian Pilot Training program. He entered the military in October of 1941 and was in air gunnery school in Tallahassee, Florida, training on P38’s, when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.
He shipped out to New Guinea on April 1, 1942. He flew over 70 missions in 31 days against the superior forces of Imperial Japan in support of British and Australian forces after the fall of the British Colony of Singapore. Outnumbered and insufficiently trained, his squadron suffered 80% casualties in the first ten days. He took command of the squadron after his own commander was killed on the second day. He survived being shot down once himself, spending three days and two nights in a raft at sea before being rescued. On another occasion, he barely escaped with his life when an engine failed on takeoff and he crashed into the jungle. His injuries required prolonged hospitalization and rehabilitation for the remainder of the war.
After the war he returned to San Francisco. He was a new car salesman for nearly 30 years in the Bay Area. He loved the outdoors and was an avid fisherman. In 1968 he married Gladys Lunn French to whom he was married for 47 years. They retired to Grass Valley in 1986.
He is survived by his sons, Jeffrey B. Prather of Diamond Springs, CA, and Mark T. Prather of Hampton, VI, and their respective families; as well as grandchildren. He is his preceded in death by his stepsons, Daniel French and Steven French.
Arrangements are under the direction of Hooper and Weaver Mortuary.
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