Oscar E. Hille, 96, of Fair Haven, died peacefully at home on Friday, September 2, surrounded by his loving family and friends. Oscar was an amazing man who led an amazing life, who kept his sense of humor, kindness and generosity shining to the end. Born in New York City to Elsa and Oscar Hille, the family moved to New Jersey when he was a young child and remained living here his entire life, eventually raising his own family in Hillsdale and Montvale.
A member of the “Greatest Generation,” he helped his family through the struggles of being immigrant parents and the Depression. After graduating from high school, he attended Newark School of Engineering and Paterson Teacher’s College while working to help support his parents and siblings. In December 1941, a day after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Oscar enlisted in the Army Air Force. He soon started training as a pilot in various flight schools on many different types of planes and eventually graduated as a co-pilot on the great Flying Fortress B-17 Bombers. He and a crew flew a new B-17 from the west coast of the U.S. with fueling stops, the last in Nova Scotia. They then flew across the northern Atlantic, at night, to England where all their flying missions would begin.
Oscar and the crew of the B-17 “Madie” were members of the 390 Bomb Group and along with 128 other B-17 crews, were part of the famed Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, an American bombing raid on German munitions factories. On August 17, 1943, under heavy attack by German fighter planes, the “Madie” was severely damaged. Co-pilot Oscar was seriously wounded but managed to crash land the B-17 in a farmer’s field and all those on board survived. Two crew members had parachuted out and one did not survive. Many other B-17’s in their group were also shot down and crew members did not survive. Captured that day by German soldiers, Oscar and the seven members of the crew were taken to POW camps and were prisoners for 20 months, until the end of the war in 1945.
Upon returning back to the U.S., Oscar married his fiancée, Dorothy, on September 9, 1945. He had a lifelong career with NJ Bell/AT&T, retiring early to enjoy life. He and Dorothy raised their children, were avid gardeners and traveled, and had a great marriage. A good life well lived and deserved.
Oscar was predeceased by his beautiful wife, Dorothy, in 2005, and is survived by two loving daughters, Dawn Hille Cannata and Diane Hille Jacoubs, with whom he lived in Fair Haven; two grandchildren, Christopher Jacoubs and Niki Jacoubs Key and her husband Simon and their two children; and his great-grandchildren, London Ann and Hudson James Key. Also surviving are his nieces, Susan, Kim and Kathy; and God children, Barbara and John; as well as many friends who always kept in touch with cards and phone calls. And then there is his late-in-life buddy, Joe Perroto, who brought him many laughs, lots of ice cream and the family could not have done without Joe in these past months.
A special mention to the Fair Haven First Aid Squad whose members were there for Oscar more times than can be counted. The town is so lucky to have such kind volunteers. And finally, a special thank you to the VNA Hospice. Nurse Ann and aide Jay along with so many others were there for Oscar and made him comfortable to the end.
Please consider a donation to Soldier On, Inc, 421 North Main Street, Building 6, Leeds MA 01053. On your check memo: Tinton Falls Veterans Housing in honor of Oscar Hille. SoldierOn.Org is a non-profit group that provides affordable housing to transitioning disabled and homeless veterans. Tinton Falls has donated land on Essex Road for housing to be built for veterans and is in the planning stage for 50 to 75 units.
Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, was in charge of arrangements.
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