Joseph Albert Paradis papers, 1941-1945

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator:  Paradis, Joseph Albert, 1920-2020

Title:  Joseph Albert Paradis papers, 1941-1945

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Collections Department.

Size of Collection:  0.33 cu. ft. (in 1 cu. ft. box)

Location Number:  Mss. A P222

Biographical Note

Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis, Jr. (1920-2020) was the son of Joseph Albert Paradis, Sr. (1885-1949) and Catherine Elizabeth Trunk Paradis (1880-1948) of Louisville, Kentucky.  He had one older sister, Celanire Paradis Buchart.  His mother also had one child, Leonard L. Henley, from a previous marriage.

Paradis graduated from Louisville Male High School.  He attended Georgetown University and the University of Virginia before enlisting in the Naval Air Corps in 1941.  Transferring to the Marine Corps in 1942, he flew an F4U Corsair, was squadron leader of VMF-211, “The Wake Island Avengers,” and became an ace pilot.  In 1944, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his leadership and “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight against the enemy” in the Solomon Islands and Bismarck Archipelago areas.

After the war, Paradis returned to Louisville and married Mary Jeanne Rammacher of Cincinnati, Ohio, with whom he had seven children.  He found employment at Brandeis Machinery & Supply Corp., his family’s firm, becoming president of the company upon his father’s death in 1949.  He was also a member of the Louisville and Jefferson County Air Board, the board of directors of Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust Company, and a founder of the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.  Upon his retirement from Brandeis in 1990, he and Jeanne moved to Naples, Florida where he founded Collier Harvest.  Following Jeanne’s death, he married JoAnn Mason Willig, and they resided in Naples until his death in 2020.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.


Courier-Journal obituaries, Dec. 23 to Dec. 27, 2020. Retrieved from

U.S. Federal census records.


Scope and Content Note

Collection of letters, primarily written by Marine fighter pilot Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis, Jr. to his family during World War II.  Paradis trained at various bases from December 1941-September 1942, including Naval Air Stations in Robertson, Mo., Pensacola and Miami, Fla., and San Diego, Ca.  Initially in the Naval Air Corps, he applied and was accepted to the Marines in June 1942.  In fall 1942, he spent time in Hawaii before assignment to the Pacific Theater.  He served with Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-211 in the South Pacific in 1943 and 1944.  VMF-211 participated in the Treasure-Bougainville Campaign, Battle of the Bismarck Sea, Northern Solomon, Battle of Leyte Gulf, and Southern Philippine campaigns.  By summer 1944, Paradis had returned to the U.S. and was stationed at Cherry Point, N.C. and Jacksonville, Fla.

Paradis wrote many letters while training as a pilot and serving in the Pacific Theater. The letters contain news about his activities and life in the service, his plans, and questions about family back home.  Specifically, his letters from December 1941-July 1942 revolve around his training to become a fighter pilot. He writes about his coursework in ground school and flight training instruction, especially what upcoming weeks of training will entail. His decision to join the Marines, instead of remaining with the Navy as he originally planned, is also discussed. Briefly stationed in San Diego in August-September 1942, his letters from this time discuss the crowded base, the expense of purchasing a car, and a mishap during a maneuver to reposition airplanes.  Paradis was stationed in Hawaii and the south Pacific from October 1942-March 1944.  Due to the censoring of soldier’s letters, he especially wrote about his social and leisure activities during this time period.  His letters from summer and fall 1944 contain details about his life and work with the Marines upon returning to the United States.

Paradis’ Aviators Flight Log Book, 1942-1945, documents his training and combat missions. The book includes records of Paradis’ flights including date, type and number of the machine, duration of flight, character of flight, pilot name, and passengers.  A section for remarks often includes details about the locations of the flights.  Additionally, the volume includes a listing of planes shot down by VMF 211 in January 1944, and notices from Fighter Command, Solomon Islands to Paradis about planes he had personally shot down.  Paradis achieved ace status during the war.

The collection also includes some additional family correspondence, primarily from Paradis’ half-brother Leonard L. Henley and his wife, as well as a radio transcript of a show about Marines from Kentucky.


Folder List

Box 1

Folder 1: Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis correspondence, December 1941– May 1942

Folder 2: Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis correspondence, June – December 1942

Folder 3: Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis correspondence, January – May 1943

Folder 4: Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis correspondence, June – November 1943

Folder 5: Joseph Albert “Bert” Paradis correspondence, February – October 1944

Folder 6: Paradis-Henley family correspondence, 1942

Folder 7: Radio transcript re: Kentucky Marines, 1944

Volume 8: Aviators Flight Log Book, 1942-1945


Subject Headings



Henley, Inez.

Henley, Leonard L.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (N.C.)


Naval Air Station Pensacola (Fla.)

Naval Air Station Jacksonville (Fla.)

Naval Air Station Miami (Fla.)

Naval Air Station North Island (Calif.)

Naval Air Station Robertson (Mo.)

Popular music – 20th century.


Smoking cessation.

Soldiers – Training of – United States.

Soldiers – United States – Social life and customs – 20th century.

United Service Organizations (U.S.)

United States. Coast Guard – History – World War, 1939-1945.

United States. Marine Corps – Military life.

United States. Marine Fighter Squadron, 211th.

Veterans – Education.

World War, 1939-1945.

World War, 1939-1945 – Battlefields – Pacific Area.

World War, 1939-1945 – Equipment and supplies.

World War, 1939-1945 – Hawaii.