HASTLER, Russell



Russell Clifford

(Colonel, USAF, Retired)

Passed away on October 20, 2021. He was born in Akron, Ohio, on March 28, 1925, to the late Russell C. and Muriel (Rorick) Hastler. His beloved wife of 77 years, Normalee Mary (Albright) mourns his passing.

Cliff attended West High School prior to enlisting during WWII and serving in the Army Air Corps until war's end in 1945. He earned his BS in Industrial Management from Akron University through the GI Bill while working a full-time night shift job at Goodyear Tire and Rubber and then decided to

rejoin the military. In 1952 he was commissioned through the ROTC program, serving 30 years in the USAF. He received his MBA from AFIT and his MS in Computer Science from Texas A&M.

Cliff and Norma traveled the world while in the military, and long after, with the many lifetime friends they treasured. Cliff served under various commands throughout his career, including the Inspector Generals' Office, and ultimately, the

Aeronautical Systems Division. He was selected as Air Force Procurement Officer of The Year for his work with the F-15 group at Wright-Patterson AFB. He continued to attend the F15 "Gathering of Eagles" bi-annually, celebrating with fellow co-workers as members of one of the greatest production teams ever assembled.

In addition to the many commendations and accolades received during his distinguished Air Force career, Cliff was honored for his heroic service in WWII where he served under the 801st/492nd Bomb Group at a concealed RAF airfield in Harrington, England. Their clandestine mission was known as "Operation Carpetbagger." They flew dangerously low-altitude moonlit night missions, dropping spies and supplies over occupied Europe to Resistance fighters on the ground,

located from the air by only flashlight or bonfire. This was done under the auspices of the OSS (Office of Strategic

Command), forerunner of the CIA. Operation Carpetbagger was not declassified for over 40 years after WWII ended. The current AF Special Ops (AFSOC) has since adopted the WWII "492nd and insignia" for this special wing. Cliff and most

remaining fellow Carpetbaggers attended the presentation of their "OSS Congressional Gold Medal" in Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Building in 2018. Cliff is also the recipient of the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier) Medal and the Norwegian Defense Medal presented by the U.S. Consulates of France and Norway, respectively. The Norwegian medal had never before been presented to foreign air crews. Cliff was the last living member of his Aries eight-man Carpetbaggers flight crew, all of whom he remained in contact with until their deaths.

After his retirement from the Air Force, Cliff continued his career at Battelle Memorial Institute with the nuclear waste containment division in Oakridge, TN, and later at Systems

Research Laboratories near WPAFB.

Cliff is survived by his wife Norma; his four children: Russell C. III (Dee), Donald (Dan), Kathleen (Bob, deceased) DiGuardi, and Lynn (Vicki); his four grandchildren: Heather Hastler (Todd) Emery, Gino DiGuardi, Derrick (Kim) Hastler, and Nina DiGuardi (Vlad) Vasiliu; and his great-grandchildren: Jacob Emery, Layla and Ariana DiGuardi, and Sophia, Maggie, and Hattie Hastler. He is also survived by his brothers, Ivan G.

"Jerry" of Washington and Thomas of Florida; and his sister Mildred Wade of Ohio. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Stella Kearney of California and Evelyn Kiefer of St. Louis, and infant brother, Marvin.

Family will receive friends on Friday, November 5, 2021, at Tobias Funeral Home, 5471 Far Hills Avenue from 9:30am until the time of his service at 11:00am. Burial will take place at Dayton National Cemetery The family would like to thank Dr. Anton Vasiliu and Dr. Irina Overman along with Lita and Shawnta for the kind and gentle care they provide(d) for Cliff and Norma. Contributions in Cliff's memory may be made to Dayton Salvation Army or the Alzheimer's Association Miami Valley Chapter. Condolences can be sent to the family at


Funeral Home Information

Tobias Funeral Home - Belmont Chapel

648 Watervliet Ave

Dayton, OH