From the B-26 Marauder to the B-2 Spirit, the bomber tradition runs in this family

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Garcia
  • 509th Bomb Wing
Being the world’s most lethal stealth bomber is only a part of what makes the B-2 Spirit a vital strategic asset. The B-2 would be grounded without the Airmen who support it.

Staff Sgt. Alexander Baney, a 509th Maintenance Squadron avionics technician at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is one of those Airmen, and he’s not the first in his family to work on the B-2 or to support the Air Force mission. His family has a legacy of service stretching back generations.

Before the Air Force became its own separate branch, Staff Sgt. Michael Hoidra, Alexander’s grandfather, enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943 as an aerial gunner on a B-26 Marauder bomber with the 17th Bombardment Group, the same group that conducted the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo.

Flying mission after mission over Tunisia during the North African campaign, Hoidra would face danger and have more than one close call, Alexander said.

“His plane was hit with flak, blowing a hole in the side of the aircraft,” Alexander said. “Unaware of the impact, he began to fall out of the plane, when just in time, a crew member pulled him back in.”

Despite sustaining multiple injuries, Hoidra kept fighting until the end of the war, completing eight more missions. He was awarded two purple hearts for his service and bravery.

Hoidra’s daughter, Margaret Baney, carried on the family legacy of service, playing a role in the development of Whiteman AFB’s star aircraft.

After earning a degree in electrical engineering, she joined a company developing military aircraft in 1984. Though she didn't know at the time, she was embarking on a journey that would lead her to help develop the aircraft her son now works on.

Beginning with the B-1 Lancer and other projects with the U.S. Army and Navy, she would eventually join the B-2 Spirit team. Working on simulators and the airframe, Margaret said she directly impacted the development of the world’s only operational stealth bomber.

Her son Alexander is now carrying on the family bomber legacy.

“When I first joined, I picked jobs that worked with airframes my mother worked on,” Alexander said. “I was really excited when I found out I was coming to Whiteman because I knew she played a big part in making the B-2 what it is today.”

Working as an avionics technician, Alexander gets to work on the same aircraft his mother helped build so many years ago.
“I was so happy when I found out he was working on the B-2,” Margaret said. “I was almost in tears.”

Alexander hopes to continue a family tradition of pioneering in the bomber community by one day working on the next generation of stealth bombers, the B-21 Raider, an aircraft that carries the same name that was given to the 17th BG that his grandfather served with.

Three generations of service, three generations of bombers; Alexander and his family have been an important part of the Air Force’s past and present.