Monday, March 18, 2019

Nebel des Krieges

Sorry for the cryptic, "Sarge-esque", title, but if I'd have just entitled it "Fog of War" you might have blown it off with a "Whoop-de-doo, juvat's going to wax poetic how confusing combat is.  What does he know, he's never been in it." and then gone off to read some fictional website, say CNN or something.

So, given that you haven't left yet I'll continue, I was struggling to find a subject and failing, then decided to review my old standby to see if there wasn't a story or two left to tell on it.

Still have a few left to cover here, but....

Well, turns out there are still a few.  Today we will be learning about Lt Col George A. Davis.  While I've heard about virtually all the names on this monument to Medal of Honor Recipients, located on the parade field at Lackland AFB (sorry, not into the whole Joint Base-XYZ thing), I've never heard about Col Davis at all until now.  I mean, his Home of Record, as well as his cenotaph, is in Lubbock, TX  where I'd gone to College and got commissioned.  One would have thought there would be some little tidbit of history available.

None that I recall.  STxAR, how about you?

In any case, this guy should be remembered.  Here's a few of his stats.  266 combat missions in WWII totaling 705 combat hours with 7 confirmed Japanese kills.  He followed that up with an additional 59 combat missions in the Korean War for a total of (let me take my shoes off to help me add...) 325 combat sorties.  During that war, he shot down a total of 14 aircraft making him the only Jet double ace, the first ace in two wars and the leading ace in the Korean War.  He also became a double ace in only 17 days. That short period was certainly helped when  4 of those kills were in a single sortie.

Now, admittedly the F-86 he was flying in that engagement significantly out-performed his adversaries.

F-86 Source

TU-2 Bomber (3 Kills)Source

Although the last one in that engagement was a bit more formidable.


On that sortie, after shooting down the three TU-2's, then Maj Davis was exiting the fight when he noticed one of the other members of his squadron under attack by 24 MiG-15s.  Maj Davis dove to attack a two ship that was commencing their firing pass, destroying one of them and allowing the other F-86 and he to exit the fight successfully.  Maj Davis landed from this sortie with 5 gallons of fuel left.

One of Maj Davis' kills from gun camera.Source

That sortie seems, to me anyway, to have met the "...above and beyond the call of duty" criteria for the Medal of Honor.  Enormous victory, then re-engaging the enemy against extreme odds to protect a squadron mate, but...what do I know?  The Air Force awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross for that sortie.

At this point in his tour, Maj Davis was averaging one kill per 3 sorties. The Air Force, being a brand new service. not  having reached its fifth birthday, has been advertising him extensively.  Accordingly, the Chinese, and surreptitiously the Russians, want to take him out.  For that reason, the US policy was to rotate Aces out of the combat area as soon as possible after achieving that goal not only to preserve their combat skills and knowledge and pass it on to others through training, but to deny the communists a propaganda victory.

So, in January of '52, Major Davis is informed that the Air Force wants to rotate him home.  Unfortunately, they can find no one suitable to assume his command.

At this point, you know how this is going to end...don't you?

On February 10th, Major Davis is leading a 4-ship in an Offensive Counter Air mission in support of F-84s on an Interdiction mission (in English, He's flying cover to keep the bad guys from attacking the good guys who are going to drop bombs on the bad guys.  Yes, Beans, I tend to see the world in black and white.)

His element lead develops an Oxygen problem so has to RTB (they're flying at 38K', oxygen is required).  Maj Davis and his wingman continue the mission.  Shortly thereafter, they see a 12 ship of MiG-15s below them, but above the F-84s.  Maj Davis dives to attack, closes on one MiG and shoots him down, continuing the attack, he manages to get a shot at another MiG also shooting him down.  Continuing the attack, he tries to pull behind a third MiG, but MiGs from the trailing elements get behind his, now slow,  F-86 and shoot him down, killing him.

There was  some controversy over who actually shot him down,  A Chinese pilot, Zhang Jihui is officially credited with the kill, although the Russians say it was one of their pilots who shot him down.  But, but, but...There was no Russian involvement in the Korean War,  Right?

In any case, Zhang is shot down also, in fact, his parachute lands within a few hundred meters of Maj Davis' wreckage, and Maj Davis' wingman did not claim a kill.  This post postulates that the 2 F-86's he insists he shot down were, in fact, MiG-15s from his trailing flight and that one of them had shot down Maj Davis and that Maj Davis had shot down Zhang. It's confusing, but then Air to Air Combat, even in practice, is extremely confusing.

While Sarge and I were assigned at Kunsan, the ROKAF squadron there flew F-86s.  We would frequently engage in mock duels against anybody that was airborne in the Republic.  The first time I was bounced by one of the ROKAF F-86s,  and had my first glance at the attacker, I thought was it actually was a MiG.  They are very similar looking, especially from Air to Air kill ranges.  It would be easy to make that mistake. I'd say the hypothesis above is at least plausible.

So....Nebel des Krieges...Neh?

However regarding Maj Davis, it makes no difference who got the credit.  An excellent Fighter Pilot and Leader was lost.  My Wikipedia source goes in to the politics of the incident.  Read it if you're interested.  Those politics might be the reason for my total lack of awareness of this man.  IMHO, the Air Force should have tried harder to follow their rotation policies which might have preserved his life, but a Warrior's got to do what a Warrior's got to do.

Rest in Peace, Warrior!


Lt Col Davis' Citation:

Maj. Davis distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

While leading a flight of 4 F-86 Saberjets on a combat aerial patrol mission near the Manchurian border, Maj. Davis' element leader ran out of oxygen and was forced to retire from the flight with his wingman accompanying him. Maj. Davis and the remaining F-86's continued the mission and sighted a formation of approximately 12 enemy MIG-15 aircraft speeding southward toward an area where friendly fighter-bombers were conducting low level operations against the Communist lines of communications.
With selfless disregard for the numerical superiority of the enemy, Maj. Davis positioned his 2 aircraft, then dove at the MIG formation. While speeding through the formation from the rear he singled out a MIG-15 and destroyed it with a concentrated burst of fire. Although he was now under continuous fire from the enemy fighters to his rear, Maj. Davis sustained his attack. He fired at another MIG-15 which, bursting into smoke and flames, went into a vertical dive.

Rather than maintain his superior speed and evade the enemy fire being concentrated on him, he elected to reduce his speed and sought out still a third MIG-15. During this latest attack his aircraft sustained a direct hit, went out of control, then crashed into a mountain 30 miles south of the Yalu River.

Maj. Davis' bold attack completely disrupted the enemy formation, permitting the friendly fighter-bombers to successfully complete their interdiction mission.

Maj. Davis, by his indomitable fighting spirit, heroic aggressiveness, and superb courage in engaging the enemy against formidable odds exemplified valor at its highest.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Maj Davis was promoted posthumously.  Although the Chinese identified and recovered his body, it was never repatriated to the United States.


  1. Of course it is black and white. I mean, the only good socialist/communist is a dead socialist/communist, amiright?

    Stupid Air Force. I see the carp they pulled in Vietnam got a start in Korea. Dangit.

    And I believe the Russian-Soviets over the Commie Chinese. And no Russians flew in Vietnam, either...

    Did I get the coveted PLQ commemorative first poster award?

    1. Why do people say that? Dead communists are still bad. Nobody magically becomes “good” when they die.

      “The best kind of Commie is a dead one” is more accurate, imo.

    2. Early Bird gets the Worm, Beans.

      Stupid Air Force....Stupid Bureaucrats anyway, which evidently infects all ranks, but becomes more disproportional the higher in rank one gets. Myself included.

    3. A bear,
      I think you're right about accuracy. The problem with it though is, even then, they still vote.

  2. A former Jug pilot who made the transition to jet speed while depending on guns, the man had the hunter's eye even while being out-numbered three or more to one. Godspeed Major Davis. A timely return to your forte juvat ........(tip of the cap).

    1. Thanks, Nylon. Yeah, a gunshot in the jet age is a dangerous endeavor, even back then when everyone was limited to guns. The shooter is only slightly less vulnerable than the shootee.

  3. Nope, never heard of him. Lubbock was more interested in Buddy Holly than men that protected us from the Red Scourge or the Fascist Forces... I had a poor regard for city government after living out that way. I'm really glad we made the move to Monore, uh... I mean.... New Deal, or Noodle, or Rooster Poot... (as in: that town ain't no bigger than a rooster poot.)

    Thank you for giving us another top man to admire. Dedication to duty is a rare characteristic nowadays. Pretty obvious he wasn't there to look pretty...

    1. My pleasure, STxAR.

      Never really had to deal with the City Government, so can't comment there. I was surprised that the AFROTC detachment didn't at least talk about him. We did lots of service projects, cleaning/maintaining his Cenotaph would have been a good one. Similarly, we studied lots of Air Force Leaders, a mention there would have been appropriate. Nada.

      Interesting. Disappointing.

  4. Insane that I've not heard of him before.

    The Chicoms have no honor, none, zero - a pox on them.

    1. Second that Sarge. There is NO acceptable reason not to return his body. Commies being commies.

    2. This is what put me off my feed yesterday.

      "Rather than maintain his superior speed and evade the enemy fire being concentrated on him, he elected to reduce his speed and sought out still a third MIG-15."

      (In English, since the very first dogfight in WWI, the rule is NEVER slow down, maintain your speed, exit the fight, regain situational awareness and re-enter when you've reestablished an advantage. The writer is highlighting Col Davis' error.)

      Completely inappropriate for a citation for valor, let alone in THE citation for valor. Supposedly his wife made a stink about the non-rotation. I think someone just wanted to get even. And it's vindictive BS like that that gives chair warming bureaucrats the reputation they so richly deserve.

    3. Dwight,
      Unless they could not find it again. They retrieved his dog tags, and some of his equipment. They may have done an expedient burial and then could not relocate it after the war.
      Then again, they could just be bein' commies.

    4. Thomas McQuire was the preeminent P-38 pilot in the Pacific theater. He was a better pilot than Bong (my opinion, YMMV). He had his rules of combat. He violated all three trying to save another 38 driver and went in. The rules got violated, and the end was the END.

      Don't give me a P-38, with props that counter-rotate.
      It'll stall, it'll spin, and soon auger in.
      Don't give me a P-38....

      My co-favorite WW2 a/c right along side the P-47.

    5. Badgers like F6F Hellcats best. That is what my Uncle Darrell flew.

    6. Hellcat was a great airplane and did what it was designed to do, quite well. As did the P-38. In fact, virtually all the later WWII fighters (that went into production) were excellent at what they did.

    7. "As did the P-38. In fact, virtually all the later WWII fighters..." Actually juvat, the P-38 was a pre-WWII fighter. First flew in the late '30s, as I recall.


  5. Friggin ChiComms, grrrrrrr…

    And friggin IE. I canna reply to the replies. Edge seems to have gone Tango Uniform. So I am down here posting replies to up there. Grrrrrr.

    So, yes, a bear, and juvat. The best kind of commie is a dead, non-voting one. I dare to dream...

    As to the Chairforce bureaucrats not wanting to rotate him out when there was a death-warrant on him, well, bureaucrats are always threatened by warriors, and it looks like the early bureaucrat got the Air Force worm and took control, well, early. Bad form, and it shows to this day.

    As to Lubbock not wanting to remember anyone of note, there's a lot of that. Many feats of heroism were performed during the Korean War, but even then the Newsies were working hard to negate any achievement we made, perfecting the formula of "Make America Bad Again" that they used so well during the Vietnam War. You know, the same newsies that after the fall of the USSR, it was discovered most were directly, semi-directly or indirectly controlled and paid for by the USSR... Joe McCarthy was so damned right, but, hey, wasn't it the media that portrayed him as bad?

    Lt. Col. Davis deserves better recognition by Texas. Unfortunately, the way things seem to be going in that state, I doubt he'll ever get it.

    Though it would be a worthy retirement project in case someone, conveniently located in Texas, has some time on his hands...

    1. Hmmmmmmm.....Food for thought.

      BTW, I use Firefox, which while it screws up posting in blogger (e.g. the Font Size issue demo'd last week and corrected before publication again this week), it seems to work ok as to reading and commenting on posts. I blame Google. "Don't be evil" indeed.

    2. Lubbock is a weird place. My dad, being a peace officer there, opened up about all sorts of politics that weren't available for public consumption. He made me swear, when I was about 12, not to EVER be a deputy or a city officer. DPS and Federal were okay. He did dislike the Feds, tho. "They came in, screwed it all up, then left us to clean the mess."

    3. But...My has Lubbock grown. The house I lived in my Junior and Senior years, I could see cotton fields from the front porch. Now, it's virtually downtown.

  6. juvat, I may have to use Firefox just so I can properly comment here, and over at McThag's Abode. Gah. Can't anyone make a browser that just friggin works right? One browser for this, one browser for that, one browser for the other thing.... GAAAHHH!!!!

    1. One browser to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them...

    2. When Edge got installed automagically in W10, all hell broke lose in the district. PDF's didn't open, video's didn't display, on and on and on. Teacher's had software from when IBM was still king that no longer worked. But, again, I blame Google. They really don't play well with others.

    3. Um. Edge is a Microsoft product, the err, er I mean heir to IE.

      And yes Google is kind of an 800 pound gorilla.

    4. Okay, so I am trying Fox covered in Phosphorus...

      We'll see if it works...

    5. Okay, flaming canines seems to work, even though I have to bow down and kiss Google's butt.

      Dang it, for a dedicated Microserf follower, I can't believe I'm using Gaggle products. Just as long as I don't have to do Blabble Chrome...

  7. Juvat, Sarge- I just learned that Col. Joe Jackson passed in January. You've already covered him here, but mentioning it in case you didn't know.

    1. Tuna - I saw that, had a quiet moment at work while remembering the valor of the man. He shall be missed.

    2. Thanks, Tuna. I'll add him to the list tonight.

  8. 33 pounds of fuel upon recovering. HMMMM! In today's military, I suspect that rather than Heinekins (?) all around and Marlboros as well, a board would have been convened and the poor guy would have pilloried for putting at risk the materiel of the USAF.
    Just an assumption from my rum-addled skull guts.

    1. Just to back you up on that Dave, a certain Naval Aviator of my acquaintance received word of "troops in contact," go help. When advised that they might run into hail on the way, he and his wingman decided to head in, they figured the Navy could always repaint the aircraft.

      Bombs dropped, bad guys driven off or killed, friendly ground pounders lavish with praise for the zipper-suited sun gods.

      After trapping back at "the boat" the authorities were livid. "You flew through a hail storm?!?! You dented the bird and scratched the paint?!?! Inquiries will be held, thou shalt answer to a board of thy peers and superiors!"

      Upon being informed of the circumstances of the dinging and paint scratching, a fellow with either eagles or stars on his collar (I forget which) told the upset authorities, "Lighten up, Francis."

      The aviators were praised and feted by their squadron mates. No doubt told by the admiral (maybe the CAG), "Don't make a habit of flying through hail, you got lucky."

      To which I might mumble something about juvat and "I'd rather be lucky than good."

    2. Flew through both ducks and hail as a one zippered flying god. Rather do the ducks, if there’s a choice.

    3. As have I, Dave, and I agree.

  9. So... Old..AF..Sarge…

    When are you going to collect a bio page of fallen heroes like you promised over a year ago? So that we can easily know those in the header?

    As to driving through hail in an aircraft, that actually can be rather bad for the plane. But, people are more important than machines, right? You'd think we would ever get away from the stupidity of the LBJ war... Much more Grrrrrr.

    1. Careful Beans...OAFS could assign that page making project to you as he is still a working stiff...

      And yes, I hate anything that automagically updated any computer type device...just on principle, never mind in reality. It always happens on Wednesday nights at work, which means on Thursdays, which are payroll/staff meeting days we get a lot of "Hey, I can't synch and get my patients for today! How am I going to see 6 patients when I can't get them on the cell phone?!?!" There goes that day's productivity numbers.

      Thank you juvat for educating us about Lt Col Davis. He sounds like a true and good warrior for sure! I bet someone back on the ground was just jealous at his successes. Bet he didn't suffer fools much, and stepped on the occasional set of toes...

    2. I was just thinking of that the other day Beans. Don't worry I'll get to it, sooner rather than later I hope!

    3. Sigh...

      (I like it, I'll add it to the AP.)

  10. Policy, or lack thereof did the Major in, but not before his heroic actions. May he rest in peace.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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