Willie was born on September 17, 1922 in West New York, NJ. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 22, 1942. His flight training was in the Southwest Air Command. He was awarded his pilot wings and 2nd lieutenant bars at Craig Field, AL, then went to fighter training at Waycross, GA, and tactical at Meridian, MS. He shipped overseas and was assigned to the 118th TRS at Chengkung, near Kunmong, China.
He flew combat missions with the 118th until the war ended and then transferred to the 75th Fighter Sqdn. in September 1945. His most memorable experience was landing his P-51 at Loahwangping with a 500-pound bomb hung up under his wing. Without his knowledge the bomb dropped off on approach, but when he touched down he rolled out of the plane still going at high speed. Although he was cut and bruised and badly gouged up, no serious harm was done. See his story here.
Another memorable experience was in November 1945, when he was sent to India to ferry back a P-5lD to turn over to the Chinese Air Force. Twenty-four planes took off from Ondal Field in India. The weather turned bad and 22 planes turned back. Two of them finally found a hole in the clouds and landed at Kunming, former headquarters of the l4th AF. Two days later they arrived in Shanghai and joined the 75th Ftr. Sqdn. about to depart for the States. Posted on the bulletin board was, " lst Lieutenant W. L. Nest, missing over the Hump." Fortunately, the message had not been sent to his home.
He began work for the New York Telephone Co. as manager, outside plant, in 1946, and worked for the phone company until his retirement.