1st Lieutenant Richard Wilson, Alpena, MI
(Pictured with Dave Putman on his left. Note the black nose art partially shown at the top left of the picture - this was the squadron's "Black Panther" symbol)
I never intended to be a jet fighter pilot. My draft notice came up almost immediately after college at age 22. I visited a recruiting office to determine my alternatives. After testing, I was advised my qualifications pointed toward becoming a pilot and was advised to enroll in Pilot Training School. That is how it started. Eleven months later, after the recruits were reduced from about 120 to 40 graduates, I was an F-51 Mustang pilot. After three rides in a T-33 (a two seat jet trainer), I was a jet fighter pilot flying the F-80. Next came about 30 days of combat air training and then off to Korea.
I was stationed at K13, 30 miles south of Seoul, in the 35th Fighter Wing and in the 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Our duty as a squadron, one of three that made up the 35th Fighter Wing, was interdiction, i.e., disruption of troops and supplies movements from reaching the North Koreans' front lines (our flight was part of the 8th Fighter Interceptor Squadron which was part of the 35th Fighter Interceptor Wing).
This meant bombing and strafing railroad tracks and troop concentrations. Usually our squadron had 12 planes in flights of 4 planes each for a mission as part of the wing grouping which had, usually, 36 or more planes in the attack force. We took off two at a time from our base and slowly joined up in formation on the way to the target. At the target, the pilots reorganized their planes into, usually, a trail formation to bomb or strafe the target. I flew until I had reached 100 missions and was then rotated back to the US and stationed in a Fighter Squadron at Wold Chamberlain International Airport. I spent 12 months earning my "wings", 10 months flying missions in Korea and 2 years stationed at Minneapolis.
Last Updated on Saturday, 15 October 2011 14:30