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Thursdays at the U opens spring series Feb. 1 with presentation on Badger Aces

| Linda Tollefsrud

Author Mike O’Connor will be the featured speaker for the opening lecture of the Thursdays at the U spring series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County.

Mike O'Connor

Mike O'Connor

O’Connor will present on the topic of his 2022 book, “Badger Aces: Wisconsin Fighter Aces, 1917-1972,” from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Feb. 1 in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall in Ritzinger Hall. The talk also will be livestreamed at

More than 60,000 American fighter pilots flew combat in World War I, World War II, Korea or Vietnam. Of that number, only 1,440 pilots scored five aerial victories, therein becoming “aces.” Forty of those fighter aces were born in Wisconsin.

They hailed from Barron to Milwaukee, Eagle River to Whitewater. Whether flying Sopwith Camels, P-51 Mustangs, F-86 Sabres or F-4 Phantoms, Wisconsin-born aces like Fred Lord, Dick Bong, George Doersch, Conrad Mattson and Jeff Feinstein established a record second to none.

O’Connor, who lives in the Wausau area, also is the author of “Ace of Aces: The Dick Bong Story.”

The Thursdays at the U weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. Neither seating reservations nor parking permits are needed for campus guests.

In addition to the livestream option, the recordings are archived on the Thursdays at the U webpage.

The next presentation in the series will be Feb. 8, with Mary Hoeft presenting “Extraordinary Journey to Kathmandu.”

For more information about the series, call the campus at 715-788-6244 or email Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, the series organizer, at