Pigeons: Excellence in Combat
By 1st Lt. C. M. Seymour
Excellence in combat, excellence in air defense -- the
story of the Pigeons Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The Pigeons'
combat record speaks for itself. One-hundred and fifty-two destroyed,
twenty nine probables and forty-eight damaged. Maj. James Jabara,
the Korean War's first jet ace and possessor of the second highest
number of MIG kills, was one of the original members of the "Fightn
Pigeons". He later returned for a second tour as executive
officer of the squadron.
Among the others who contributed highly to its record
are Capt. M. J. Fernandez Jr., third in line with the most MIG
kills. He is closely followed by Medal of Honor winner Lt. Col.
George A. Davis Jr., another double ace. Other aces include Capt.
R. S. Becker, Maj. Fredrick. C. Blesse and Capt. Leonard E. Lilley.
Ably commanding the Pigeons Fighter Interceptor Squadron
is Lt. Col. Val W. Bollwerk. Executive officer is the versatile
and capable Maj. M.P. Johnson. Both are possessors of much military
"know how" and commendable service records. With cessation
of hostilities, the primary mission of the squadron switched to
air defense and combat readiness. To accomplish this a training
program had to be established that could impart to the "new
sports" the knowledge gained through combat before rotation
sent the experienced combatants home.
This has been accomplished to high degree through the
combined efforts of the squadron operations officer and the flight
commanders. This training includes air-to-air gunnery, applied
tactics, high altitude formation and in-trail acrobatics. In the
important role of operations officer and overseer of this training
program is Capt. E. D. Voigt. The flight commanders are as follows:
Alpha flight, Capt. G. A. Amussen, Bravo flight, Capt. H.L. Johnson,
Coco flight, Capt. C. E. White, Delta flight, Capt. K. R. Ellis
and Echo flight, 1st Lt. R. A. Preciado.
In conjunction with the flying training program is the
ground training program. Under the direction of 1st
Lt. J. T. Pemberton, it plays an important role in keeping the
pilots combat ready. This program includes keeping the pilots
up to date on regulations, intelligence, gunnery, etc. Lectures
are conducted during inclement weather so as not to interfere
Now included in the ground training program is a maintenance
course for pilots. It is designed to teach pilots how to change
wing tanks, tires, brakes arm guns, etc., in the event a "bugout""
takes them to fields not possessing qualified F-86 mechanics.
Combat ready pilots are worthless without airplanes. To see that
planes are always available for the pilots is WOJG John W. Bell.
Maintenance is excellent particularly in view of the rapid personnel
Two docks have been set up in the hangar to perform fifty
hour inspections. Supervising these inspections is T/Sgt. L.C.
Perkins, who sees that inspections are completed in the minimum
time, even if this means working on "stand down" days.
In keeping with the high degree of efficiency of the other
organizations in the squadron is the Pigeons orderly room. Chief
Clerk S/Sgt. R.W. O'Brien is assisted by S/Sgt. M.J. Yates and
A/lCs W. C. Pollard, C. J. Peterson and C.A. Smith in the important
task of morning reports, records and correspondence. Squadron
first sergeant is M/Sgt. W. R. McCartt .
Other organizations which complete the makeup and add
to the overall effectiveness of the squadron are as follows: Squadron
Supply: headed by 1st Lt. F. C. MacDaniel and T/Sgt.
J. N. Grabill; Personal Equipment directed by 1st Lt.
P. D. Carrick and S/Sgt. F. D. Blake; Armament, supervised by
Lt. R.A. Gay and M/Sgt. F.B. Sipes, Communications, supervised
by Lt. Kallenberg and T/Sgt. W. E. Flood; Radar and Gunsight,
headed by S/Sgt. J. C. McLeod. and Operations sergeant, T/Sgt.
E. C. Skinner.
Every man in the squadron deserves a plaudit for the job
he is doing. It is their combined efforts that makes the Pigeons
Fighter Interceptor Squadron tops.
to Gazette table of contents
The Rocketeers: Can Do Anything Better
"We can do anything...better." That's
the proud boast of the Fabulous Rocketeers Fighter-Interceptor
Squadron. Now the pilots of the blue-nosed Sabrejets go into mock
combat south instead of north of the bomb line in the never-ending
honing job that-keeps a fighting edge on the Fourth Fighter Wing.
Todays kills are being recorded on a minute frame
of movie film, but the pilots are ready to inscribe them in the
skies over the Yalu with the finality of a .50 caliber slug at
the collapse of the uneasy truce.
Since the end of hostilities, the common job of maintaining
a high combat effectiveness with the ever-dwindling experience
level has been met with an intensive training Program in the roost
of the Rockets.
Pilots now assigned and attached to the squadron have
amassed many hour's of F-86F time flying training sorties. Engineering,
surmounting its own experience problem, has maintained a high
Commanding the efforts of the Sq. team is Lt. Col. Donald
H. Ross, a World War II member of the RAF-spawned Eagle Squadron
and the original Fourth Fighter Wing. Executive officer is Maj.
Leo G. Sill and ramrodding operations is Capt. Charles Daly. Rocketeers'
reins recently changed hands with the ZI rotation of Lt. Col.
Edward R. Weed, former commander; Maj. James Cumberpatch, executive
officer; and Capt. John Roberts, operations officer and a former
Air Force gunnery champion.
Foundation of the fighting capabilities of the squadron
are the four flights. Their commanders are Capt. Harry Krig, able
flight; 2/Lt. Richard 0. Holliday, baker flight; 1/Lt. James V.
Webster, Charlie flight; and I /Lt. William Curry, dog flight.
Heading the section that keeps the swept-wing fighters in the
air is engineering officer WOJG Clyde Harris assisted by his NCOIC,
M/Sgt. Francis Kalinowski. The flight line chiefs are T/Sgt. Albert
St. Jacques, able; M/Sgt. Thomas Rustin, baker; T/Sgt. Harry Deam,
Charlie; and M/Sgt. Donald Storom, dog.
When the truce stilled the guns in the ever-blue skies
of Mig Alley, the Rockets had a final tally of 108 ½ kills, 23
damages, and 118 probables.
Three jet aces wore the blue scarves of the Rocketeers.
They are Maj. Robinson Risner, Lt. Col. Richard Creighton; and
Maj. Stephen Bettinger, the last ace of the Korean war whose fifth
Mig-15, shot down the last day of fighting, was confirmed only
after his repatriation from a North Korean prison camp.
At the end World War II, the Sq. was deactivated in England.
It was re-born in April in 1947 as part of the Strategic Air Command
at Andrews AFB just outside of Washington, D.C. The mission was
very -long-range escort and the aircraft were F-80As, the first
When SAC relinquished its fighter squadrons, the mission
changed to air defense and the Rockets became part of the Continental
Air Command and later part of the young Air Defense Command.
Korea sounded the rallying horn for the reformation of
the Fourth and the pilots ferried their F-86As from Langley AFB,
VA, to the west coast and were loaded aboard an air craft carrier.
The re-united Fourth group came to Korea under the command
of Lt. Col. Ben Preston, the original commander of the reactivated
to Gazette table of contents
The Chiefs: Tops Among Mig Killers
By 2nd Lt. Michael W. Straight
On the 15th of December 1950, the Chiefs Fighter Interceptor
Squadron began its combat operations in the Korean theatre. The
F-86 equipped "Chiefs" lost no time in locating their
adversaries, the Russian-built MIG-15s, at their home bases on
the Yalu River.
The Chiefs hold the distinction of having downed more
Communist jets than any other fighter squadron in the Korean War.
Its record of 222 ½ MIGs destroyed, 28 probables, and 185 damaged,
remains unequalled in the, history of jet warfare.
In the first six months of 1953, the Chiefs accounted
for 71 ½ MIG-15 types while loosing only 2 Sabres a ratio
of 36 to 1. June of that year proved to be the most successful
month of the Korean campaign in spite of a considerable amount
of bad weather. Twenty-six MIGs were knocked out of Korean skies
during this 30 day period. As the statistics show, many a Communist
pilot found to his dismay that he was no match for the superior
fighting skill displayed by pilots of the Chiefs.
Those mostly responsible for achieving this exceedingly
lopsided score were of course, the jet aces. Of the 39 to come
out of the Korean War, the Chiefs claim 15. These men, some of
whom were attached pilots, are: Col. Royal N. Baker (13 MIGs)
C.O. of the 4th FIG, Col. James K. Johnson (11 MIGs),
30th jet ace, C.O. of the 4th FIW, Col.
George L. Jones (6 ½ MIGs), 31st jet ace. Col. Harrison
R. Thyng (5 MIGs), 16th jet ace, C.O. of the 4th
FIW. Maj. Vermont Garrison (10 MIGs), 32nd jet ace,
C.O. of the Chiefs. Lt. Col. Winton W. Marshall (6 ½ MIGs), 6th
jet ace, CO of Chiefs. Capt. Lonnie Moore (10 MIGs), 33rd
jet ace. Capt. Ralph S. Parr (10 MIGs) became the 34th
jet ace on the same day and within 5 minutes of Capt. Moore. Capt.
Clifford D. Jolley (7 MIGs), 18th jet ace. Capt. Robert
J. Love, (6 MIGs), Capt. Ralph D. Dibson (5 MIGs) 3rd
jet ace. Capt. Robert T. Latshaw (5 MIGs) 14th jet
ace. Capt. Clyde A. Curtin (5 MIGs), operations officer of the
Chiefs. Lt. James F. Low (9 MIGs), 17th jet ace, within
2 months after entering combat, became the first 2nd
Lt. To make ace, got his first kill 8 May 52, two weeks after
his first combat mission.
Lt. James H. Kasler (6 MIGs). Of the 82 pilots of the
squadron with one or more MIGs to their credit, these 15 men accounted
for slightly over one half of the total score.
It is hardly necessary to point out that without the skilled
hands and willing support of the engineer, supply, communications,
and armament personnel, the squadron would not have attained anywhere
near the success that is now accredited to it. In spite of a continual
loss of experienced people, trough normal rotation, the maintenance
and supply sections have always managed to keep a maximum of aircraft
in the air.
Since the end of the shooting war on 27 July 1953, the
Chiefs have been pledged to maintain a high state of combat readiness.
Through the diligent efforts of officers and airmen and a vigorous
training program, the Chiefs can be relied on to accomplish, to
the fullest, any mission assigned to them.
to Gazette table of contents