Sylvan Tenberg

[ Age 85 ] Decorated World War II Navy pilot fought in the Pacific, later worked in sales and marketing

October 17, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN REPORTER

Sylvan L. "Corky" Tenberg, a decorated World War II Navy fighter pilot and former Baltimore resident, died of complications from an infection Oct. 10 at a hospice in Lecanto, Fla. He was 85.

Mr. Tenberg was born in Baltimore and raised in the city's Pimlico neighborhood. After graduating from City College in 1939, he went to work building airplanes for $15 a week at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River.

Mr. Tenberg's interest in aviation began in his youth when he built and flew model airplanes. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he enlisted in the Navy and trained at Pensacola Naval Air Station as a carrier pilot.

Assigned to the Pacific aboard the USS Chenango, he participated in the battle for the liberation of the Philippines and attacks on the Japanese homeland.

He also flew with night fighter squadrons, a risky assignment - in part because of the takeoffs and landings under dark skies.

"His fighter pilot career included many close calls and harrowing experiences under extremely difficult conditions," said his brother, Marvin L. Tenberg of Cockeysville.

"It was very early in the war when he was forced to ditch his plane in the Pacific and jump into the ocean with his lifejacket," his brother said. "His fellow pilots later remarked that watching him appear to go up and down in the rough seas, that he bobbed like a cork. Thereafter, he was nicknamed `Corky' by the other pilots, and throughout the rest of his life, by his friends."

His decorations included the Navy Cross and two Navy Distinguished Service Medals.

A lieutenant at war's end, he remained a reservist and was recalled to duty during the Korean War. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander.

Mr. Tenberg worked as a buyer for Kramer Bros., a Fallsway fishing rod and tackle manufacturer, then joined AT&T Corp. in sales and marketing. He retired in 1986.

The longtime Northwest Baltimore resident later lived in York, Pa., and had resided since last year in Homosassa, Fla.

Services were Friday.

Also surviving are three sons, Kerry C. Tenberg of Austin, Texas, Stephen A. Tenberg of Beverly Hills, Fla., and Brian M. Tenberg of Manchester; and seven grandchildren. His marriage to Dolores Witzen ended in divorce.

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