Veterans

July 26, 2012

Korean War fighter jet pilot recalls missions

by Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

He flew fighter planes his entire career, and as a wingman during the Korean War in 1952 and 1953, he flew 100 missions and extended his tour to perform 25 more.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. William Earl Brown Jr. spent 34 years in the military, but his experiences as a young pilot in the Korean War left a lasting impression, he said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel.

In Korea, Brown said, he flew the F-86 Saber fighter jet, the first operational swept-wing aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

“Our mission was to prevent the MiGs from attacking the other aircraft. The MiG-15s were being flown by the Chinese communists and by active-duty Soviet fighter wings.”

A typical mission took up to two hours. “If we were lucky, we’d run into the MiGs and manage to down a few of them,” he added.

As a wingman, Brown flew with a more-experienced major or captain in the lead, many of whom had World War II experience. They flew in flights of four, in “fingertip” formation with a leader and a wingman, and an element leader and a wingman, he explained.

“The wingman’s job was to look to the rear and protect the leader from any aircraft closing [in] to shoot him,” Brown said. “And the second lieutenants were invariably assigned to the jobs as wingmen, while the captains and majors would shoot down the MiGs.”

Brown said he was fortunate to fly with some good aviators in the Korean War.

“I’d been flying maybe 10 or 15 missions and never saw a MiG,” he said, “Except one day, … I was No. 4 in a flight. A MiG-15 that was obviously flown by a guy who was superior to me in skill latched onto me.”

The MiG was so close, Brown said, he could hear the sound of its guns firing. It had two 23 mm cannons in addition to a larger one, compared to the Americans’ six machine guns – three on each side of the aircraft.

Brown said he is alive today because his element leader came in behind the MiG, and while it shot at Brown, the element leader poured bullets into the MiG and shot the aircraft down. “That encounter really got my attention,” he said. “Up until that point, I had no real understanding of what it meant to have some guy really try to kill you.”

Brown, an African-American, said he didn’t face any discrimination during the Korean War.

“I never ran into the kinds of discriminatory practices that the Tuskegee airmen had to face when they began flying in the Air Force,” he said. “One thing about flying in fighters [is] when you don the fighter pilot’s helmet and don the oxygen mask and pull down the visor, no one can see what color you are. All they can see is how you position your aircraft. Is it where it should be? Do you drop the weapons? Do they strike the target?

“I guess I was fortunate,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines May 27, 2015

News: U.S. Air Force certifies SpaceX for military launches - SpaceX has been certified for military space launch, the U.S. Air Force announced May 26. The long-awaited announcement is a game changer, with SpaceX becoming only the second provider cleared by the service to launch national security payloads into orbit.   Business: Northrop Grumman CEO issues...
 
 

New’s Briefs May 27, 2015

U.S. military begins search flights for stranded Rohingya The United States has begun military surveillance flights to help locate stranded Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people in Southeast Asian seas. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said May 26 that U.S. Navy P8 aircraft flew over the weekend with Malaysian support. Rathke said the U.S. has offered...
 
 
nasa-commercial-crew

Commercial Crew milestones met; partners on track for 2017 missions

NASA has taken another step toward returning America’s ability to launch crew missions to the International Space Station from the United States in 2017. The Commercial Crew Program ordered its first crew rotation mission fro...
 

 
af-spacex

Air Force certifies SpaceX for national security space missions

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s Falco...
 
 

Northrop Grumman passes key design review for B-2 weapons management upgrade

Northrop Grumman has successfully demonstrated to the U.S. Air Force that its plans to upgrade key weapons management software for the B-2 stealth bomber are on track and ready to proceed to the next level of development. The company successfully completed the critical design review of the service’s Flexible Strike Phase 1 program on Feb...
 
 
boeing-space

Boeing awarded first-ever commercial human spaceflight mission

NASA issued a task order as part of Boeing’s $4.2 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract recently to include the company’s first-ever service flight to the International Space Station. The award ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>