Print Print Email Email Share Share

Col. Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, AFRC

Marvin 'Sonny' Eliot


Col. Marvin "Sonny" Eliot was born December 5, 1920 and raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended Central High School and Wayne State University, where the broadcasting career for which he is best known.

Equally impressive is his aviation career, which began at Wayne County Airport. He soloed in a piper cub and received his license in 1940. The next year he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and trained in many military planes including the C-47 and C-39.

After training, during which he saw duty at bases in Texas, Arizona and Kansas, Eliot was shipped to England and was assigned to the 392nd Heavy Bomb Group, flying B-24s in the Eighth Air Force based in Norwich. He was shot down over Gotha, Germany by FW190s on his 16th mission, was captured and spent 16 months as a POW in Stalag-Luft 1 in Barth, Germany. The Gotha mission made him a battle-hardened veteran of the grimmest days of the air war. The 392nd committed 36 air crews to this mission and lost 73 planes, the third heaviest losses of the war. It earned the group the Presidential Unit Citation for one of the most vital air strikes of the aerial war.

His other honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart.

After World War II duty he was still devoted to flying, amassing over 7,500 hours of flight time. While at Channel 4 TV and WWJ Radio in Detroit, Eliot won many news media awards for promotion and public awareness of aviation. He has flown extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico in his own aircraft(C-120) and has been an FAA prevention counselor for many years. He holds the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was named Air Force liaison officer for the 1st Congressional District.
Home from the war in 1945, he returned to Detroit and spent the next 57 years on the city's airwaves with WWJ and the TV channels 4 and 2, where Eliot earned his greatest fame as a weatherman.

His witty weather reports have been named the nation's best by the National Association of TV Program Executives (NATPE).

Marvin "Sonny" Eliot was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 6, 2001. He passed away November 16, 2012 at the age of 91.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program