Larry Mars was born on February 8, 1921, in Watertown, Minnesota. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 9, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on June 22, 1943. After completing P-38 Lightning training, Lt Mars was assigned to the 37th Fighter Squadron of the 14th Fighter Group in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations from October 1943 to July 1944, during which time he flew 56 combat missions and was credited with the destruction of 3 enemy aircraft in aerial combat between February and April 1944. He left active duty and joined the Minnesota National Guard on September 14, 1945, returning to active duty with the Army Air Forces on May 12, 1946. Capt Mars was medically retired from the Air Force on July 31, 1950, and died on January 22, 2000. He was buried at the Sunnylane Cemetery in Del City, Oklahoma.
His Silver Star Citation Reads:
For gallantry in action as pilot of a P-38 type aircraft. On 15 April 1944, Lt. Mars participated as escort to heavy bombers attacking strategic enemy installations in Rumania. Approaching the target, observing a flight of hostile ships preparing to intercept the bomber formation, Lt. Mars immediately turned to engage the enemy ships. In the ensuing engagement, while driving the hostile planes from the area, his aircraft was severely damaged, rendering one (1) engine inoperative. Forced to drop back and join the bomber formation, he observed two (2) enemy aircraft approaching the bombers. Despite the crippled condition of his aircraft, with complete disregard for his personal safety, he attacked the enemy fighters, and, in the aerial battle that followed, displaying outstanding aggressiveness and combat skill, he successfully destroyed one (1) and drove the other from the bombers. Through his effective protective cover, the bombers were thus enabled to complete their mission without further damage. Returning to base alone after sustaining further damages, he skillfully brought his stricken ship through for a safe landing. By his conspicuous courage, combat proficiency and devotion to duty, as evidenced throughout over fifty-six (56) successful missions against the enemy, Lt. Mars has reflected great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.