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The 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 "Fight’n 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 with flying.

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 turnover.

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.

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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.

Today’s 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 in-commission rate.

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 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 production jet.

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 Rocketeers squadron.

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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 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 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 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 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.

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