Personnel of the 6147th Tactical Air Control Group, known as the "Mosquitoes," were the first to create a large-scale, comprehensive airborne FAC system. At the outset of airborne FAC, the first plane employed was the L-5, which was already in use by the Army for artillery spotting. It was considered largely unsatisfactory, however, and the T-6 became the FAC aircraft for the duration of the conflict.
The early TACPs FAC radio was a heavy, jeep-mounted device that depended on the jeep for power. By 1951, the Air Force adopted a better jeep (the M-38), a new radio, and a more powerful generator to run both the radio and a homing beacon. The eight-channel (ARC-3) and four-channel (SCR-522) radios gave the FAC increased capability to talk with aircraft.
Air Force TACP personnel of the Tactical Control Squadrons lived as soldiers during their tour at the front, unofficially nicknamed the "Air Force Infantry." Although they received combat pay and took casualties early in the war, the Tactical Control Squadrons were officially considered to be a non-combat unit.
The decline in more traditional methods of COMINT production forced the services into trying new ideas, or, in one case, reverting to an older one.
In late 1951, in conditions reminiscent of France in 1917, ASA personnel inadvertently rediscovered an intercept technique used extensively in World War I. UN forces in Korea commonly planted sound detecting devices forward of their bunkers to give warning of approaching enemy troops; it was found that these devices also picked up telephone calls. This "ground-return intercept," using the principle of induction, enabled collection of some Chinese and Korean telephone traffic.
The bad news was this intercept had to be conducted much closer to enemy positions than normal intercept, sometimes as close as thirty-five yards. This risk was assessed carefully and accepted.
Ground-return intercept (GRI) gave UN forces access to information on Chinese or North Korean patrols, casualty reports, supply problems, and evaluations of UN artillery strikes.
One colonel who participated in the GRI program was heard to remark that the information was so well appreciated by his soldiers that he had little trouble getting volunteers to go out at night and implant the equipment to make intercept possible.
A second innovation in COMINT production became one of the foremost producers of tactical intelligence for the U.S. military. This was low-level intercept (LLI).
"U.S. Air Force Air Rescue Service units would soon be flying similar helicopters, designated as H-5s, from land bases to pick up downed pilots, often behind enemy lines. Within months, Air Force helicopters joined the Marine choppers in rushing badly wounded leathernecks from frontline aid stations to field hospitals and later to a Navy hospital ship offshore, sharply reducing delays in providing lifesaving medical care."
Low-level teams initially consisted of an officer, driver, and one to three opera-tors/translators working out of a jeep; over time the number of operators increased. Although the mobile operations were productive, the jeeps were considered too vulnerable, and operations were "dug in" in bunkers near the main line of resistance, as it was then called. The product was disseminated directly to combat units, usually at regimental level.
The first attempt at front-line LLI in July 1951 proved only partially successful, but, after some changes in equipment, the program began in earnest in August. Seven LLI teams were fielded by November 1951. By the following May, ten LLI teams were in operation, with planning for more. The success of the program is attested by the fact that by October 1952, fifteen LLI teams were at work, and by the end of the war, twenty-two LLI teams were active.
It was estimated that the tactical value of LLI product lasted from twenty minutes to three days at best - but, however perishable, it paid off. In early September, units in the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division area successfully repelled a heavy attack by the PLA. One important element in this victory was the advance warning given by the 1st Cav's LLI team.
Because the LLI teams dealt in perishable and current intelligence, not much long-term analysis was done - or possible. It thus became difficult to keep continuity on opposing units. These problems were eased somewhat with the creation of an LLI "control section" at ASA headquarters in Seoul in late 1951. This section collated reports from the field and service as a reference source on language problems and OB questions.
While United Nations forces struggled to hold onto the Pusan perimeter in the late summer of 1950, the U.S. 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was rushed into action to reinforce U.S. Army and Republic of Korea (ROK) troops defending that precarious pocket in the southeast corner of South Korea. The undermanned 5th U.S. Marine Regiment and its support units had barely arrived at Pusan when they were moved in borrowed Army trucks to stop a North Korean assault near Chindong-ni, on the perimeter's western edge. Brigade commander Brigadier General Edward A. Craig knew little about the terrain his Marines would have to cross, so he climbed into a Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter and lifted off to scout the route, give directions to the lead battalion, pick a spot for his command post and meet with his Army superiors. Returning from the meeting with Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker, the Eighth Army commander, Craig stopped three more times to confer with his unit commanders. That crucial trip aboard a chopper from Marine Observation Squadron 6 (VMO-6) on August 3, 1950, was a harbinger of the increasingly vital role rotary wing aircraft would play in three years of tough fighting in Korea.
While the Marines were inaugurating the use of the underpowered Sikorsky helicopters in command-and-control, light resupply and medical evacuation roles, the Navy was flying those same choppers from aircraft carriers and a few large warships operating in the Sea of Japan. The Navy helos were used at first to pluck downed fliers from the sea and undertake short logistical missions between ships. But they quickly took on added duties such as gunfire spotting for the warships. Later in the conflict they became key elements in the prolonged effort to clear coastal waters of mines.
U.S. Air Force Air Rescue Service units would soon be flying similar helicopters, designated as H-5s, from land bases to pick up downed pilots, often behind enemy lines. Within months, Air Force helicopters joined the Marine choppers in rushing badly wounded leathernecks from frontline aid stations to field hospitals and later to a Navy hospital ship offshore, sharply reducing delays in providing lifesaving medical care.
Early in 1951, Army helicopters also began to fly medevac missions, sparing seriously wounded soldiers punishing ambulance trips over Korea's wretched roads. Between their rescues of downed airmen and isolated ground troops and flying ambulance missions, U.S. helicopters were credited with saving tens of thousands of lives during the war. "Few technical innovations were equal in importance to the growing use of the helicopter for medical evacuations," one Army history declared. With the arrival of larger, more capable helicopters later in the conflict, the Marines and Army would demonstrate the usefulness of vertical lift aircraft in the tactical movement of troops and supplies — a role that would become the hallmark of another Asian war a decade later.
When North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, four HO3S-1 helicopters and 37 Marines were transferred from HMX-1 to VMO-6, which departed for Korea in July aboard the escort carrier Badoeng Strait. The squadron's four helicopters and eight Stinson OY-1 (the U.S. Navy designation for the L-5) fixed-wing spotter planes flew into the Pusan perimeter on August 2, as the Provisional Brigade's ground troops were arriving. The helicopters quickly proved their worth, helping General Craig and his battalion commanders overcome their lack of familiarity with their operating area. "Helicopters were a life saver in this connection, as they provided the means for even commanders of small units to get into the air quickly from almost any point and identify roads, villages and key points prior to moving their troops," Craig recalled.
The helicopters added pilot rescue to their duties on August 3 when an HO3S carrying Craig diverted to pick up a Marine Vought F4U-4 Corsair pilot who had been shot down during a close air support mission. Marine choppers would assume that role scores of times in the coming months. Major Robert J. Keller, a commander of VMF-214, the famous "Black Sheep" fighter squadron, said later, "The helicopters have done a wonderful service in rescuing downed pilots under the very guns of the enemy."
As the choppers' roles diversified, their crews implemented a variety of field modifications. When asked to carry casualties to the rear, the Marines found that a stretcher would not fit inside the HO3S's small cabin. So they removed the rear window on one side and stuffed the wounded man's litter in headfirst, leaving his feet exposed to the weather. On occasion, innovative helicopter crews also supported the infantry by laying field telephone wires between units, putting down lines over rugged terrain within minutes that would have taken men on foot days to cross.
Equipped with only the most basic instruments, the helicopters were not actually certified for night flying. But with so many lives at stake, Marines soon found themselves evacuating casualties after sundown. Pilots from the other services also defied the ban on night flying. In the end, chopper crews would conduct hundreds of dangerous nighttime medevac missions.
To meet the increasing demands for their services, additional Marine helicopters and pilots were sent from Japan in August. General Craig called for larger helicopters that could carry heavier loads, and Marine headquarters responded within a year. VMO-6 helicopters had no immediate role in the 1st Marine Division's daring amphibious landing at Inchon on September 15, but choppers got into the action the next day when one of the squadron's helos flying off an LST (landing ship, tank) rescued a Corsair pilot who had ditched in the harbor. Many of the rescue missions proved dangerous, and VMO-6's helicopter units suffered their own losses. Two choppers were shot down, and one pilot was killed while trying to rescue other fliers during the advance from Inchon to Seoul.
The choppers played key roles during the Marines' advance to the Chosin Reservoir and their fighting withdrawal from the massive Chinese offensive, maintaining contact among the widely separated units. And they also continued flying medical supplies and critical materiel in and carrying casualties out of small landing spots in the narrow valleys of North Korea. Two more choppers were shot up and another pilot killed during that precarious withdrawal.
Late in 1950, as the numbers of HO3Ss were shrinking due to losses, VMO-6 started transitioning to Bell HTL-4s, the helicopters made famous by the M*A*S*H TV show's opening scene. The Bells could carry two casualties in litters strapped on each side, twice the load that could be carried by HO3Ss.
Navy helicopters were in the war zone shortly before the Marines, when U.S. Seventh Fleet units, including the aircraft carriers Valley Forge and Philippine Sea, arrived offshore to support the retreating U.S. and ROK troops. Each carrier had a helicopter detachment from HU-1 serving as plane guard or "angel" to recover pilots from the water. Retired Navy Commander Harold R. Gardiner, then a lieutenant, led the HU-1 detachment on Valley Forge at the end of 1950, with Chief Aviation Pilot Dan Fridley as the other pilot.
During rescues, pilots normally flew with an enlisted crewman who operated the rescue hoist and frequently had to jump into frigid water to assist pilots into the "horse collar" sling. Raymond Swanecamp, who flew with an HU-1 detachment on Valley Forge as a radioman 3rd class, explained that the crewmen were trained in water rescues at the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) school at Coronado, Calif.
Helicopters also were assigned to some cruisers and battleships, and their pilots soon began experimenting with adjusting fire for the big guns. Retired Lt. Cmdr. Earl Bergsma, who flew off USS St. Paul, recalled a number of missions when he tried to direct the heavy cruiser's 8-inch guns against trains and railroad tunnels along the North Korean coast while being shot at by enemy troops.
Jones, who flew from several cruisers in 1950-51, said chopper crews received a very short course in gun spotting at Coronado before deploying. But mainly, he recalled, "we learned as we went." The results were often remarkable. A 1950 Navy report found that "a ship using its own helo and carrying its own spotting officer possessed one of the best assets to accurate marksmanship that a ship could have."
Navy helicopters debuted as part of the mine-clearing forces during the attempted amphibious landing at Wonsan in September 1950. Their capability was demonstrated unintentionally when the cruiser Helena's helo pilot, Lieutenant Harry W. Swineborne, photographed two moored mines while searching for survivors of a sunken minesweeper in Wonsan Harbor. Flying from the cruiser Worchester, Chief Aviation Pilot B.D. Pennington spotted more mines a few days later, and soon the helicopters were a key part of mine-clearing operations in Wonsan and other Korean ports. Some helicopter crewmen tried to destroy floating mines with rifle fire, but that was discouraged after exploding mines nearly knocked a helicopter out of the sky, Bergsma recalled.
Helicopters saved several mine-sweeping ships by spotting mines in their path or directing them out of a surrounding minefield. "The helicopters had many friends in the minesweeps," said Lt. Cmdr. I.M. Laird, skipper of the minesweeper Dextrous, who was among those guided to safety. While mine-clearing operations at Wosan dragged on, Navy helicopters were based on LSTs that had been fitted with a landing platform. "As time went on, our copters got more and more into the role of rescue," said Lieutenant T.E. Houston, a captain of LST-799. Air Force helicopters also began operating in Korea in July 1950, when the 3rd Air Rescue Squadron deployed a detachment of H-5s from Japan to conduct what an Air Force history referred to as an "ill-defined combat search and rescue mission." One historian wrote, "By using a combination of sheer guts, good luck and learn-as-you-go mentality, the ARS logged hundreds of combat saves and was responsible for the evacuation of 9,898 personnel by the end of the war."
As UN forces advanced out of Pusan following the Inchon landing, Detachment F moved north to Seoul K-16, but had to fall back to K-37 south of Taegu when the Chinese attacks forced the allies to retreat. In February Detachment F helicopters made multiple flights to deliver blankets, blood plasma and medical supplies and to fly out casualties when part of the 2nd Division was surrounded at Chipyong-ni. At times defying 40-knot winds and blinding snow, the chopper crews saved 52 soldiers within two days.
In response to calls for more capable aircraft, an Air Proving Ground team brought two Sikorsky H-19s to Korea in March 1951. The day after they arrived, one was used to help the smaller H-5s evacuate paratroopers from the Mussan-ni drop zone.
While UN forces stalled the Chinese offensive in late spring of 1951, the detachment's missions changed. With the fighting settling into trench warfare, the Eighth Army was suffering fewer casualties and Army helicopters were taking over a larger share of the medevac duties. But enemy flak was downing more allied aircraft over hostile territory, so the Air Force helicopters soon went back to rescue missions.
In June the Air Force renamed the unit Detachment 1, 3rd ARS, and opened a search-and-rescue coordination facility at the Fifth Air Force's tactical air control center in Seoul. In February 1952, Detachment 1 began replacing its H-5s with H-19s. The larger helicopters had a flight radius of 120 miles, compared to 85 miles for the H-5s, and could carry nine litters instead of only one. As part of worldwide reorganizations in 1952-53, the 3rd Air Rescue Squadron became a group and Detachment 1 became the 2157th Air Rescue Squadron.
Despite its early work with helicopters, the Army was the last of the U.S. services to bring rotary wing units into Korea. The first Army unit, the 2nd Helicopter Detachment, arrived there on November 22, 1950, with four Bell H-13Bs (the same aircraft as the Marine HTLs). After additional training, the unit became operational on January 1, 1951. It was joined later that month by the 3rd and 4th Helicopter detachments, with four of the Bells. Using procedures developed by the Air Force, the H-13s began to assume much of the medevac burden.
In May the detachments were redesignated as the 8191st, 8192nd and 8193rd Army units. Similar to the learning process the Marines and the Air Force had gone through, a postwar report said, the Army pilots and the ground troops they served had to learn by trial and error what their choppers could or could not do during medevac missions. For example, ground units calling for medevacs had to be taught the importance of providing accurate coordinates for pickup and how to mark landing spots with panels or colored smoke. Ground commanders were told to request helicopter evacuation only for troops with head, chest or abdominal wounds, multiple fractures and great loss of blood, or if no ambulance were available or ground transport would likely exacerbate patients' serious injuries.
By the end of 1951, historian Lynn Montross observed, "evacuations of casualties by helicopter was no longer a Marine Corps specialty. It had become the American way." During their first 12 months of operation in 1951, Army helicopters carried 5,040 wounded. By mid-1953, despite the shortcomings of the early helicopters, Army choppers evacuated 1,273 casualties in a single month. "Costly, experimental and cranky, the helicopter could be justified only on the grounds that those it carried, almost to a man, would have died without it," an Army historian concluded.
Army commanders quickly found, as the Marines had, that given the mountainous terrain and poor communications that plagued allied forces, helicopters were valuable command-and-control aids. An Army report said the helos "have been established as an extremely useful tactical tool of command in combat and their use has permitted commanders to have a more intimate knowledge of conditions with their command than ever before possible."
Although the first extensive use of helicopters in combat was handicapped by the limited capabilities of the early aircraft and the need to develop procedures under wartime pressure, they were widely hailed as tools that would be vital in future conflicts. On the basis of his experiences in Korea, Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. Maxwell Taylor said: "The cargo helicopter, employed in mass, can extend the tactical mobility of the Army far beyond its normal capability. I hope that the United States Army will make ample provisions for the full exploitation of the helicopter in the future."
By the time the United States went to war again in Vietnam, a decade later, helicopters had made the transition from useful novelty to a symbol of the American way of fighting.
In the peaceful years just after World War II, while the United States was deactivating combat units, releasing servicemen and servicewomen from duty, and dismantling arsenals, Air Force leaders were developing aircraft for an air war yet to come--the jet war. The Air Force, under Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, was building a solid nucleus of modern aircraft, even as it shrank in size.
The events of June 25, 1950 shattered the brief postwar peace and sparked the militarization of the cold war. Communist North Korean troops stormed across the 38th parallel. Attacking at dawn, the North's spearhead of Soviet-built T-34 tanks and following infantry swept aside the first defenses and flooded south into the Republic of Korea. South Korean forces, taken by surprise, wavered and broke. Communist infantry and marines poured ashore on South Korea's east coast near Kangnung. Kaesong fell at 9:00 a.m., and the seaborne Communist columns pushed their way inland.
The attack set off immediate alarms far south and east of the Korean battlegrounds, in Japan. There, the bases of the US Fifth Air Force were spread out in a defensive arc from Kyushu in the south to Honshu in the north. Fifth Air Force combat squadrons formed the backbone of US air defenses in the Far East.
The Fifth was largest of the Far East Air Forces (FEAF), recognized as the major air element of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area Theater. FEAF's primary mission was to maintain active air defense of the Far East Command and theater of operations. Fifth Air Force provided the "appropriate mobile air striking force" prescribed in FEAF's mission statement.
The mainstay of the Fifth's defensive capability was the first jet fighter that the United States ever produced in quantity: the Lockheed F-80C Shooting Star. This new aircraft was deployed with the 35th Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Yokota, near Tokyo; with the 68th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Itazuke Air Base on Kyushu; and with the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Misawa on northern Honshu.
The United States knew it required more than the F-80 jet fighter for the war effort. The F-80 squadrons were backed by two all-weather fighter units operating prop-driven North American F-82 Twin Mustangs. In fact, FEAF's planners also saw a need for Fifth Air Force to use every prop-driven F-5l North American Mustang that could be found. They understood and valued the F-5l 's longer range and ability to operate from short, rough airfields.
Also deployed at Yokota were RF-80A reconnaissance planes of the 8th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Two light tactical bomber squadrons of the 3d Bombardment Wing, equipped with Douglas B-26 Invaders, were deployed at Johnson AB, north of Tokyo. Rounding out Fifth Air Force's lineup of units was the 374th Troop Carrier Wing, which operated out of Tachikawa AB with two squadrons of Douglas C-54 transport aircraft.
"A Shoestring Air Force"
In the first days of the war, Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, FEAF Commander, sent a message to USAF Headquarters asking for personnel to bring all units up to war strength. He also requested 164 F-80s, twenty-one F-82s, sixty-four F-51s, twenty-two B-26s, twenty-three Boeing B-29s, twenty-one C-54s, and fifteen Douglas C-47s. Most of these planes were needed to round out squadrons to war strength and provide a ten percent reserve for combat attrition. Unfortunately, the Air Force in 1950 was what General Vandenberg would later describe as "a shoestring Air Force." Deep reductions in personnel in 1949 and early 1950 brought its strength down to 411,277--less than one fifth the size of the 2,000,000-strong World War II flying force. USAF had to support the first year of operations with World War II equipment stocks.
Even so, there was no shortage of USAF action. By June 26, only hours after the North Korean invasion began, airmen from the Fifth Air Force were flying over the peninsula in every available plane, evacuating Americans via Seoul's Kimpo Airfield and carrying other noncombatants out of the beleaguered country.
The enemy, however, continued to press hard and fast as the droning USAF transports--C-54s, C-47s, and Curtiss C-46s--undertook their life-saving sorties under protective cover of F-80 jets, prop-driven F-51 Mustangs, and F-82 Twin Mustang night fighters.
On June 27, under orders from Washington, Fifth Air Force fighters went to war in earnest, aided by carrier-based Navy and Marine fighter and attack planes, Royal Australian Air Force Meteor jets, South Korean and South African fighter-bombers, and Greek and Thai transport units.
The First Jet Victories
On the same day, Air Force 1st Lt. Robert H. Dewald, flying an F-80 jet, downed a Soviet-made Ilyushin Il-1 attack plane. Lieutenant Dewald's achievement is recorded as the first-ever American aerial victory attributed to a pilot flying a jet aircraft. Flying a cover mission earlier that day, 1st Lt. William G. Hudson and Maj. James W. Little, both flying in prop-driven F-82 fighters, were attacked by two North Korean fighters, and the US pilots fought back. With guns blazing, they flamed two enemy planes. Lieutenant Hudson is credited with downing a Yak-II fighter. Major Little is credited with destroying an La-7. The Air Force scored three other aerial victories on its first complete day of offensive fighter operations. Lt. Charles Moran, Capt. Raymond Schillereff, and Lt. Robert E. Wayne, flying in an F-82 and F-80s, respectively, brought down a Soviet-made La-7 and two Soviet-made Il-1s.
The following day, June 28, saw another Air Force "first." On the morning of that day, the southward-drifting polar front stood over the airfields on Kyushu, but the Fifth Air Force had to fly. Lt. Bryce Poe II took off alone into the murky overcast from Itazuke in his RF- 80A. His task was to reconnoiter and photograph the vanguard of the North Korean force. Weather at Itazuke was foul, but Lieutenant Poe found clear weather in Korea, and he successfully carried out his mission. Lieutenant Poe's flight marked the first reconnaissance sortie of the Korean War and, of greater historical significance, the Air Force's first combat jet reconnaissance sortie.
While the ground war raged up and down the Korean peninsula, FEAF pilots waged unceasing air war against the North Korean enemy-- destroying aircraft; attacking supply and troop depots; shattering critical transportation facilities and routes; burning vehicles, locomotives, and railcars; and relentlessly pounding front-line, dug-in positions. American pilots went into this fresh combat bolstered by their battle-tested experience of World War II. For the most part, the Americans who carried the brunt of early fighting were veteran aviators.
Early in the war, it was North Korea's Yakovlev fighters that tangled most frequently with the American Mustangs and Shooting Stars. However, as the Chinese Communists moved into the battle along the Yalu River in the war's first winter, the sweptwing, Soviet-made MiG-15 fighter entered the Korean air war. So, too, did an American aircraft that soon would become known as the "MiG Killer": the North American F-86 Sabre.
To be sure, the Air Force's slower F-80 jets already had gone up against the MiGs before the F-86 appeared on the scene in Korea. The first "jet-to-jet" victory in military history, in fact, saw a Soviet-made MiG-15 going down in flames at the hands of an American F-80 pilot. Lt. Russell J. Brown of FEAF's 16th Fighter Squadron sparred with and then brought down the Soviet jet on November 8, 1950. It was in encounters with the F-86, however, that the Soviet-made MiGs met their true nemesis.
The critical role of the F-86 is made plain in the final tally of Korean War victories. The Air Force's official victory publication lists page after page of Sabre pilot victories over the MiG-15. Of 839 MiG-15s shot down in air-to-air combat during the Korean War, fully 800 were brought down by Sabre pilots. The enemy managed to drop only fifty-eight of the F-86s.
Ace is a title of honor given to an airman officially credited with downing five or more enemy aircraft. Of the forty Americans of all services who became aces in the Korean War, thirty-nine made their mark in F-86s. (The only non-Sabre ace, Navy Lt. Guy P. Bordelon, had five night kills in his F4U-5N.) Though they didn't become aces, many other American pilots scored victories. These individuals are credited with a total of 114 air-to-air victories in Korea. Of these, nearly two-thirds--seventy-two--were racked up by pilots flying the F-86.
Making Aviation History
By May 20, 1951, Capt. James Jabara, an F-86 pilot, had destroyed four enemy MiGs and needed but one more to become the first "jet-to-jet ace" in history. Late that afternoon, two Sabre flights closed into "MiG Alley" and found that the adversary was willing to come up and fight. Hearing the news by radio, two other Sabre flights, one of which included Captain Jabara, sped to the area, arrived in fifteen minutes, and took part in the combat. In the battle, thirty-six USAF Sabre pilots battled some fifty MiGs. Jabara plunged into the fight and downed not one but two MiGs, establishing his place in aviation history.
In the pages of this magazine's June 1951 issue, Captain Jabara described the mission: "I tacked on to three MiGs at 35,000 feet, picked out the last one, and bored straight in. My first two bursts ripped up his fuselage and left wing. At about 10,000 feet, the pilot bailed out. It was a good thing he did, because the MiG disintegrated. Then I climbed back to 20,000 feet to get back into the battle. I bounced six more MiGs. I closed in and got off two bursts into one of them, scoring heavily both times. He began to smoke. Then, when my second burst caught him square in the middle, he burst into flames and fell into an uncontrollable spin. All I could see was a whirl of fire. I had to break off then because there was another MiG on my tail."
At war's end, Captain Jabara could claim fifteen MiG kills. In terms of Korean War victories, Captain Jabara was surpassed only by Capt. Joseph H. McConnell, Jr. In the first five months of 1953, the F-86 pilot from 39th Fighter Squadron bagged sixteen MiG-15s. On one particularly auspicious day--May 18--Captain McConnell dropped three MiGs, thus becoming the first "triple jet ace" in USAF history.
The Korean War was a watershed in military aviation. As the pilots knew only too well, times were changing. The machines were unlike any ever seen, and the era of free-lance air warriors was rapidly passing. Captain McConnell, discussing his status as an ace, made a portentous statement: "It's the teamwork out here that counts. The lone wolf stuff is out. Your life always depends on your wingman and his life on you. I may get credit for a MiG, but it's the team that does it, not myself alone."