Welcome to The Hall of Honor

By way of introduction...

The header at the Chant du Départ used to look like the next graphic. It hasn't always looked like that, a complete history of what the header has looked like over the years can be seen here. At one point in time I decided to start putting some of my heroes on the header, other than Lex that is. (Yes, surprised me as well to see that there was a period of time when Lex was not on the header, though he was still on the sidebar.)

I have received a number of questions from you, the readers, as to why a certain person wasn't honored on the header. The short answer is "lack of space," the long answer was a bit more complicated. Originally these folks on the header were meant to be my heroes, then it hit me, those aren't all of my heroes, just some of them. It was Beans, I recall, who suggested a Hall of Honor page in order to depict even more heroes than can be placed in the header. 

And that's where you are right now.

As new heroes are added to the Hall of Honor, there will be new pages, with links at the bottom of this page to those pages.

First off, here are the heroes depicted on that last instantiation of the header, a picture and a brief reason why they were on that header.

Who They Are - The Godfathers...

The man on the left is Captain Carroll F. "Lex" LeFon, Jr., United States Navy (Retired). He had a marvelous blog, Neptunus Lex, which, sadly, is gone, though its echoes linger on at The Lexicans. Career Navy, Annapolis graduate, fighter pilot, blogger, and a fine husband and Dad. A man's man, a gifted writer whose days on this Earth were cut short on a snowy day at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. Nearly out of fuel and certainly out of options, Lex almost got his bird down, but it was not to be. He lost his life doing one of the things he loved, flying fighters. Lex inspired me to start writing.

Now that fellow on the right is Master Sergeant Norman "Buck" Pennington, United States Air Force (Retired). Also a blogger, he was a huge supporter when I first started writing, always checking my grammar, chastising me on comma placement, and always providing encouragement and ideas. His blog, Exiles In Portales (EIP) still exists. His passing was, like Lex's, out of the blue. While Buck had medical issues (if you're past 60 you probably know what I mean) it was nothing that seemed imminently dangerous. But one day Buck posted that he was having trouble breathing. A couple of days later we learned that he was gone.

(The original post explaining the impact of Lex and Buck on The Chant is here.)

Who They Are - A Gendarme and Three Cadets...
Left to right -

Arnaud Jean-Georges Beltrame, (18 April 1973 - 24 March 2018)
Lieutenant colonel in the French Gendarmerie Nationale and deputy commander of the Departmental Gendarmerie's Aude unit, who was killed by a terrorist at Trèbes after having exchanged himself for a hostage. French President Emmanuel Macron said that Beltrame deserved "the respect and admiration of the whole nation" and Unites States President Donald Trump qualified him as a "great hero". For his bravery and adherence to duty he was posthumously promoted to colonel and made a Commander of the Legion of Honour. (Source)
Peter Wang, (09 November 2002 - 14 February 2018) -
Stoneman Douglas High School shooting: Cadet Wang was last seen in his Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) uniform, holding doors open so others could get out more quickly; Wang was unable to flee with the students when the assailant appeared and fatally shot him. He sacrificed his life for others and was called a hero. A White House petition was circulated, calling for him to be buried with full military honors. At his funeral, Cadet Wang was posthumously honored by the U.S. Army with the ROTC Medal for Heroism, and he was buried in his JROTC Blues uniform. On February 20, he was given a rare posthumous admission to the United States Military Academy. (Source)
Alaina Petty, (22 August 2003 - 14 February 2018) -
Stoneman Douglas High School shooting: Her family were surprised at the beginning of the school year when Cadet Petty decided to join the high school’s JROTC program. Later they realized she was anxious to follow “her brother Patrick’s footsteps” into the program. Becoming a cadet was also a way to honor her country and contribute to her school and community. At her funeral, Cadet Petty was posthumously honored by the U.S. Army with the ROTC Medal for Heroism. (Source)
Martin Duque Anguiano, (Not listed - 14 February 2018) -
Stoneman Douglas High School shooting: Cadet Duque was born in Coyuca De Catalan, Mexico. His parents brought him and his four siblings to the United States to give them a better life—and Martin had exceeded their wildest dreams. Friends and family described Martin as a fun-loving, church-going, happy teenager who loved “Star Wars” and soccer. But his proudest accomplishment was being an exemplary cadet of the junior ROTC. Martin had earned just about every award possible for a young cadet, including ribbons for personal appearance, perfect attendance, good conduct, athletics and leadership development. At his funeral, Cadet Duque was posthumously honored by the U.S. Army with the ROTC Medal for Heroism. (Source)
    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Family

    Left to right -
    LT Nathan Poloski -
    A Navy fighter pilot presumed dead after two jets crashed Friday over the Pacific Ocean was identified Sunday as Lt. Nathan Poloski of Lake Arrowhead.
    Poloski, 26, was involved in the apparent collision of two F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson west of Wake Island. After a search, the Navy said Saturday that he was presumed dead. The pilot of the other plane was rescued.
    Last April, Poloski became a member of Strike Fighter Squadron 94, based in Lemoore, Calif.
    After Friday's crash, the search for Poloski covered more than 3,000 square miles and involved multiple ships and aircraft as well as satellite imagery, the Navy said, but his remains were not located. The search was called off Saturday. (Source)
    Nate's body was never recovered. He rests beneath the waves of the Pacific.

    Major Taj Sareen -
    An Indian American Marine, from San Diego, California, Maj. Taj Sareen, 34, died Wednesday when the F/A-18C Hornet he was flying crashed near a U.S. base in England. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
    Taj Sareen was a pilot with a pilot in Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. He was deployed as part of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command 15.2 and was returning with his squadron after a six-month deployment at the time of the crash. (Source)
    I met Taj once upon a time. The guy lit up the room when he walked into it, damn, but that one hurt. A lot.

    U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss, a native of Durango, Colorado, was a decorated pilot who joined the Blue Angels in 2014. Prior to the Blue Angels, he served in Afghanistan and had accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 landings on aircraft carriers.
    On June 2, 2016, at the age of 32, Kuss tragically lost his life when his jet crashed a day before the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna. A Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet similar to the jet flown by Captain Kuss and on loan from the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida will be on permanent display as part of the Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial. He is survived by his wife Christina, children Calvin and Sloane, parents Janet and Michael, and brother Eric. (Source)
    Surrounded by Blue Angels, The WSO, Big Time, and two of my granddaughters. Jeff Kuss is second from left.
    They all hurt, these three hurt more than most. We knew them, personally.

    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Childhood Heroes, Marines

    Left to right -

    John Glenn -
    So let's start with the biggest name of those three Marines. John Glenn. When I was a kid, I didn't know that John Glenn had been a Marine fighter pilot, I knew him as an astronaut. One of the first astronauts, John Glenn was also the first American to orbit the Earth. When I was a lad, being an astronaut trumped everything. Including being a fighter pilot. John Glenn was both.

    When Senator Glenn passed away in December of 2016, I felt he deserved a spot up on the masthead. In truth, he represents all of the American men and women who have gone into space, pushing back that final frontier.

    Yes, he became a politician, a Democrat no less, but I still respected the man and his accomplishments. No list of American heroes would be complete without him.
    Ted Williams -
    Williams served as a Naval Aviator during World War II and the Korean War. Unlike many other major league players, he did not spend all of his war-time playing on service teams. Williams had been classified 3-A by Selective Service prior to the war, a dependency deferment because he was his mother's sole means of financial support. When his classification was changed to 1-A following the American entry into World War II, Williams appealed to his local draft board. The draft board ruled that his draft status should not have been changed. He made a public statement that once he had built up his mother's trust fund, he intended to enlist. Even so, criticism in the media, including withdrawal of an endorsement contract by Quaker Oats, resulted in his enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserve on May 22, 1942. (Source)
    Jerry Coleman - 
    Nicknamed "The Colonel", because he had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, Coleman was a Marine aviator who postponed his entry into professional baseball in World War II and later left baseball to serve in the Korean War. While a Marine Corps aviator he flew 120 combat missions (57 during WWII and 63 in Korea). and received numerous honors and medals including two Distinguished Flying Crosses. In recent years Coleman received numerous honors; including, being inducted into the USMC Sports Hall of Fame, for his call to duty. Coleman was the only Major League Baseball player to have seen combat in two wars. (While Ted Williams served during both WWII and Korea, he flew combat missions only in the Korean war.)Nicknamed "The Colonel", because he had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, Coleman was a Marine aviator who postponed his entry into professional baseball in World War II and later left baseball to serve in the Korean War. While a Marine Corps aviator he flew 120 combat missions (57 during WWII and 63 in Korea). and received numerous honors and medals including two Distinguished Flying Crosses. In recent years Coleman received numerous honors; including, being inducted into the USMC Sports Hall of Fame, for his call to duty. Coleman was the only Major League Baseball player to have seen combat in two wars. (While Ted Williams served during both WWII and Korea, he flew combat missions only in the Korean war.) (Source)
    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Air Force Enlisted

    CMSgt Duane D. Hackney, USAF -
    Hackney's most celebrated mission was on February 6, 1967, when two HH-3 helicopters, Jolly Green 05 and Jolly Green 36, launched from the 38th ARRS at Udorn Air Base, Udorn, Thailand. They were attempting the recovery of a downed O-1F pilot, Nail 65, near the Mu Gia Pass, North Vietnam. After Airman Hackney made one unsuccessful trip to the ground in search of the pilot, both Jollys returned to base due to foul weather. Later in the day, the helicopters launched again and located the survivor. Airman Hackney was lowered to the ground, and after securing the survivor into the Stokes litter, both were lifted out. No sooner did they reach Jolly 05's door when ground fire erupted. As they raced to exit the area, the helicopter was hit with a 37 mm anti-aircraft round and caught fire. With complete disregard for his own welfare, Airman Hackney removed his parachute and placed it on the survivor. He lunged to grab another one from storage as the helicopter, a growing, blazing fireball, arched across the sky. In an instant, it exploded, just as Airman Hackney slipped his arms through the harness. He was blown out of Jolly 05 by the explosion. Dangling from the harness, he managed to pull the ripcord and the chute opened just as he hit the trees, where he plunged a further 80 feet and came to rest on a ledge in a crevasse. He narrowly avoided capture while enemy troops jumped across the crevasse, mere feet above. Jolly 36 immediately made a run in to locate any survivors and found only burning wreckage, with Duane Hackney waving his arms for pickup. He was the only survivor. (Source)
    SSgt William H. Pitsenbarger, USAF - 
    Flying on almost 300 rescue missions in Vietnam, Bill Pitsenbarger risked his life almost daily during the war rescuing downed soldiers and fliers. On April 11, 1966, the 21-year-old, known as "Pits" to his friends, was killed while defending some of his wounded comrades. For his bravery and sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the nation's highest military decorations, the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross, becoming the first enlisted airman to receive the medals posthumously. (Source)
    CMSgt Richard L. Etchberger, USAF -
    In the early morning hours of March 11, 1968, the site (Lima Site 85) came under attack from North Vietnamese soldiers who had scaled the surrounding cliffs. By 3 a.m., Etchberger and six others were the only surviving Americans out of the original 19. Etchberger tended to the wounded and fought off the advancing North Vietnamese troops until a rescue helicopter arrived. He then helped load the wounded onto slings to be lifted into the hovering aircraft before coming aboard himself. As the helicopter headed towards an air base in Thailand, an enemy soldier below fired his AK-47 into the underside of the aircraft, fatally wounding Etchberger.

    John Daniel had been shot twice in the legs and was taking shelter amidst the bodies of other casualties when Etchberger recovered him and fitted him into the helicopter sling. Upon regaining consciousness and learning that Etchberger himself had been killed, Daniel voiced his disbelief: "Hell, he hasn't been injured, he hasn't been shot. How is he dead?" Decades later, when Etchberger was awarded the Medal of Honor, Daniel, in an interview with Stars and Stripes, suggested: "It should have happened 42 years-plus ago, and he should have gotten a damn 55-gallon drum full of them if he wanted them." (Source)
    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Korean War Aces

    Left to Right - 

    Colonel James "Jabby" Jabara -
    James "Jabby" Jabara (10 October 1923 – 17 November 1966) was the first American jet ace in history. Born in Oklahoma, he lived in Kansas where he enlisted as an aviation cadet at Fort Riley after graduating high school. Jabara attended four flying schools in Texas before he received his pilot's wings and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. During World War II Jabara flew two tours of combat duty in Europe as a North American P-51 Mustang pilot. He scored 1.5 air victories against German aircraft.

    After World War II, Jabara flew his first jet aircraft in 1948, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star before transitioning to the North American F-86 Sabre. Jabara used this aircraft to shoot down multiple Soviet-built MiG-15 jets during the Korean War. He achieved his first confirmed air victory of the war on 3 April 1951. A month later he scored his fifth and sixth victories, making him the first American jet ace in history. He eventually scored 15 victories, giving him the title of "triple ace". Jabara was ranked as the second-highest-scoring U.S. ace of the Korean War. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross for his accomplishments in combat.

    Following the war, Jabara held a series of commands at various Air Force bases across the United States. He flew the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and later the Convair B-58 Hustler. In 1966, Colonel Jabara was traveling with his family to their new home when his daughter crashed the car he was in, killing them both. They were buried together at Arlington National Cemetery. In recognition of his contributions to military aviation, an airport outside of Wichita, Kansas was named in his honor and each year the United States Air Force Academy alumni association bestows the Jabara Award upon an Academy graduate whose aerospace accomplishments demonstrate superior performance. (Source)
    Captain Joseph C. McConnell, Jr. -
    Joseph Christopher McConnell, Jr. (30 January 1922 – 25 August 1954) was the top American flying ace during the Korean War. A native of Dover, New Hampshire, Captain McConnell was credited with shooting down 16 MiG-15s while flying North American F-86 Sabres with the U.S. Air Force. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star for his actions in aerial combat. McConnell was the first American triple jet-on-jet fighter ace and is still the top-scoring American jet ace.
    During World War II, McConnell entered the U.S. Army Air Forces Aviation Cadet training program. His dream of becoming a pilot was dashed when, instead of being sent to pilot training, he was assigned to navigator training. After completing this course, he flew combat missions in Europe as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator navigator. He remained in the Army Air Forces after the war, eventually entering flight training. In 1948, McConnell finally achieved his goal of becoming a fighter pilot.
    After returning to his home in Apple Valley, California, McConnell was stationed at George Air Force Base and continued flying F-86s. On 6 August the people of Apple Valley gave a new home, the "Appreciation House", to Capt. McConnell. The house was completed in 45 hours with all land, material, and labor donated.
    In 1954 he was temporarily assigned to the service test program for the new F-86H. This was the last and most powerful version of the Sabre, and was intended to be a nuclear-capable fighter-bomber. On 25 August 1954, while testing the fifth production F-86H-1-NA (serial number 52-1981) at Edwards Air Force Base, McConnell was killed in a crash following a control malfunction. The cause of the accident was attributed to a missing bolt. Then-Major Chuck Yeager was assigned to investigate the crash and replicated the malfunction at a much higher altitude. This height advantage allowed him to safely regain control of the aircraft before it hit the desert floor. The 1955 film The McConnell Story, starring Alan Ladd and June Allyson, chronicles his life story. The book Sabre Jet Ace (1959) by Charles Ira Coombs chronicled his experiences as a fighter pilot in Korea in a fictionalized biography for young readers.
    In May 2008 Pearl McConnell, Beautious Butch, died at the age of 86. She had never remarried and was buried with Captain McConnell. (Source)
    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - World War One Aces

    Left to Right -

    Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker -

    Captain Frank Luke, Jr. - 

    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Two Thuds and a Spad

    Left to Right - 

    First Lieutenant Karl W. Richter -
    Lieutenant Richter quickly became an exceptional fighter pilot, and took on every opportunity to fly. With only two years' Air Force experience and even less in combat, he became an element leader. Once, while on leave, he turned down the possibility of a trip to Bangkok or Hong Kong and went instead to Nakhon Phanom where he flew combat missions in an O-1E Bird Dog.

    On September 21, 1966, Richter was flying as Ford 03, an element leader, north of Haiphong on a mission to seek out SAM sites. Preparing to strike a discovered site, he saw two MiG-17s making a pass. After assessing the situation, began closing in on the enemy aircraft. He engaged the MiG with his 20mm cannon and impacted the enemy aircraft.

    Just as Richter's gun went empty, the MiG's wing broke off and he saw the MiG pilot eject. In a later comment, Richter noted "...It's strange, but, in a way, I was happy he got a good chute. I guess that's the thought that runs through all our minds. He's a jock like I am, flying for the enemy of course, but he's flying a plane, doing a job he has to do."

    At the age of 23, Karl Richter had become the youngest American pilot to shoot down a MiG over Vietnam. Richter went to Saigon to receive the personal congratulations of Lt. Gen. William W. Momyer, Seventh Air Force commander, and again at the personal invitation of Premier Nguyễn Cao Kỳ when he was awarded the Vietnamese Distinguished Service Medal.

    As he approached the 100-mission mark, Lieutenant Richter asked permission to fly a second 100 missions, believing his combat experience should be used to advance the war effort. On April 20, 1967, while leading a defense-suppression flight of F-105s, his flight destroyed or pinned down a number of enemy AAA and SAM crews, enabling the strike force to eliminate an important railroad target, in spite of intense enemy fire and weather that hindered navigation. Having already received the Silver Star, was awarded the Air Force Cross for his skill and heroism that day.

    At the time of his death, Lt. Karl Richter had flown more missions over North Vietnam than any other airman—198 in all officially credited.
    Last Mission -
    Flying with a new pilot, Richter spotted a bridge and instructed the trainee to stay above and watch as he rolled his F-105 toward the target. Suddenly, enemy anti-aircraft artillery opened up hitting the plane and forcing him to eject. His parachute disappeared into the fog bank and cloud cover. A nearby rescue helicopter picked up his beeper signal and homed in to get the downed pilot. Severely injured during his descent, most likely from swinging into the side of a sandstone cliff, Richter died en route to a hospital.

    Richter is buried at United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Source)
    Major Edward J. Rasimus -
    Ras flew over 250 combat missions in Vietnam, the bulk of them in the F-105D "Thud" but he did another tour in the F-4E Phantom as well. Ras was a published author as well, he wrote of his experiences in Vietnam and he also helped write the memoirs of Brigadier General Robin Olds, Fighter Pilot. (If you have any interest at all in flying fighters and leadership, real leadership, read that book.) Ras was a blogger as well, I found Thunder Tales after his passing. Damn, but that day was dusty.

    Juvat knew him and flew with him. Around here, Ras is considered family. Which is also why he's on the new header with Lex and Buck.
    Colonel Bernard F. Fisher -

    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On that date, the special forces camp at A Shau was under attack by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. Hostile troops had positioned themselves between the airstrip and the camp. Other hostile troops had surrounded the camp and were continuously raking it with automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills. The tops of the 1,500-foot hills were obscured by an 800 foot ceiling, limiting aircraft maneuverability and forcing pilots to operate within range of hostile gun positions, which often were able to fire down on the attacking aircraft. During the battle, Maj. Fisher observed a fellow airman crash land on the battle-torn airstrip. In the belief that the downed pilot was seriously injured and in imminent danger of capture, Maj. Fisher announced his intention to land on the airstrip to effect a rescue. Although aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, he elected to continue. Directing his own air cover, he landed his aircraft and taxied almost the full length of the runway, which was littered with battle debris and parts of an exploded aircraft. While effecting a successful rescue of the downed pilot, heavy ground fire was observed, with 19 bullets striking his aircraft. In the face of the withering ground fire, he applied power and gained enough speed to lift-off at the overrun of the airstrip. Maj. Fisher's profound concern for his fellow airman, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Legends of the Wolf Pack, Blackman and Robin

    General Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr. and Brigadier General Robin Olds
    On the 2nd of January, 1967, F-4C Phantoms from the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (the Wolf Pack) headed north from Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, into North Vietnam. They flew in a formation designed specifically to mimic the formations normally used by F-105 Thuds, used jamming pods carried by the Thuds (which the ground crews at Ubon spent 36 straight hours modifying the Phantoms to carry this specific pod, not designed for the Phantom), and using the same radio call signs normally used by the Thud flights.

    The North Vietnamese took the bait. While more Phantoms from the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing entered the north to block the enemy MiG-21s from fleeing into China, and standing between the MiGs and their sanctuary bases. The North Vietnamese were flying into a meat grinder.

    In the ensuing combat the Phantoms downed seven MiG-21s, out of only sixteen in the entire North Vietnamese People's Air Force. Olds Flight, led by the 8th TFW commander, Colonel Robin Olds, scored the first kills of the day. (The Phantom flights were all named after American cars, seemed appropriate, no doubt, to name the wing commander's flight "Olds.") Downing three MiG-21s in the space of a few minutes.

    Then Ford Flight joined the fray, led by Colonel Daniel "Chappie" James, the 8th TFW's Deputy Commander for Operations (DCO) and killed another MiG. When Rambler Flight rolled in, three more MiGs were downed.

    Four days after this operation, 8th TFW Phantoms took to the air again, this time masquerading as reconnaissance Phantoms (the RF-4C, an unarmed version of the Phantom). The MiGs took the bait again, losing two more MiG-21s!

    In those two operations, the Phantoms of the 8th TFW essentially drove the MiGs from the skies over North Vietnam, not a single MiG-21 was seen for over three months after Operation Bolo. An operation led by two of my personal heroes, Robin Olds and Chappie James. When then-Colonel Olds took command of the 8th TFW (juvat's and my old outfit) the unit had a bit of a sad sack history, lackluster performance and a lack of aggressiveness. Colonel Olds brought in an old friend of his, then-Colonel Chappie James to be his DCO. Together they forged the 8th into a powerful weapon and became known as "Blackman" and "Robin." Definitely what I would call a dynamic duo.

    Robin Olds flew in World War II and Vietnam, downing 16 enemy aircraft. Chappie James flew in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, fighting the enemy and discrimination at home at the same time, he was one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - Five Medals of Honor, Five Warriors

    Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale
    23 Dec 1923 - 05 Jul 2005
    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners' of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale's valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
    Brigadier General Joseph J. Foss
    17 Apr 1915 – 01 Jan 2003
    For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as executive officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 121, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, at Guadalcanal. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from 9 October to 19 November 1942, Capt. Foss personally shot down 23 Japanese planes and damaged others so severely that their destruction was extremely probable. In addition, during this period, he successfully led a large number of escort missions, skillfully covering reconnaissance, bombing, and photographic planes as well as surface craft. On 15 January 1943, he added 3 more enemy planes to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on 25 January, Capt. Foss led his 8 F-4F Marine planes and 4 Army P-38's into action and, undaunted by tremendously superior numbers, intercepted and struck with such force that 4 Japanese fighters were shot down and the bombers were turned back without releasing a single bomb. His remarkable flying skill, inspiring leadership, and indomitable fighting spirit were distinctive factors in the defense of strategic American positions on Guadalcanal.
    Captain Lance P. Sijan
    13 Apr 1942 – 22 Jan 1968
    While on a flight over North Vietnam, Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than 6 weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner of war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered 1 of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.
    Brigadier General* George E."Bud" Day
    24 Feb 1925 – 27 Jul 2013
    On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.
    Colonel Leo K. Thorsness
    14 Feb 1932 – 02 May 2017
    For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. As pilot of an F- 105 aircraft, Lt. Col. Thorsness was on a surface-to-air missile suppression mission over North Vietnam. Lt. Col. Thorsness and his wingman attacked and silenced a surface-to-air missile site with air-to-ground missiles, and then destroyed a second surface-to-air missile site with bombs. In the attack on the second missile site, Lt. Col. Thorsness' wingman was shot down by intensive antiaircraft fire, and the 2 crewmembers abandoned their aircraft. Lt. Col. Thorsness circled the descending parachutes to keep the crewmembers in sight and relay their position to the Search and Rescue Center. During this maneuver, a MiG-17 was sighted in the area. Lt. Col. Thorsness immediately initiated an attack and destroyed the MiG. Because his aircraft was low on fuel, he was forced to depart the area in search of a tanker. Upon being advised that 2 helicopters were orbiting over the downed crew's position and that there were hostile MiGs in the area posing a serious threat to the helicopters, Lt. Col. Thorsness, despite his low fuel condition, decided to return alone through a hostile environment of surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft defenses to the downed crew's position. As he approached the area, he spotted 4 MiG-17 aircraft and immediately initiated an attack on the MiGs, damaging 1 and driving the others away from the rescue scene. When it became apparent that an aircraft in the area was critically low on fuel and the crew would have to abandon the aircraft unless they could reach a tanker, Lt. Col. Thorsness, although critically short on fuel himself, helped to avert further possible loss of life and a friendly aircraft by recovering at a forward operating base, thus allowing the aircraft in emergency fuel condition to refuel safely. Lt. Col. Thorsness' extraordinary heroism, self-sacrifice, and personal bravery involving conspicuous risk of life were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.
    Their actions speak for them, there is nothing that I could add...

    * Posthumously advanced to the rank of Brigadier General effective 27 Mar 2018 as directed by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Who They Are - MiG Killers

    Maj. Robert Lodge (left) and Capt. Roger Locher (right) in the cockpit of F-4D 65-0784.
    Three MiG Kills.
    Left to right -

    Major Robert Lodge -

    How do you know a guy is a "good stick"? If a fellow fighter pilot has this to say about him -
    I knew he'd done something extraordinary during the Vietnam War, because most of my instructors, all Vietnam Vets, would speak of him in hushed, honorary tones.  But, in those days before Google, researching details was a bit more complicated.

    So, I decided that I would do that today.  Majors Bob Lodge and Capt Roger Locher were fighter pilots (yes....Capt Locher was a WSO, but fighter pilot is an attitude, not an AFSC)  in the 555th TFS stationed at Udorn AB Thailand.  The "Triple Nickle" was one of the more famous squadrons in Air Force History.  Specifically trained and manned to be an Air to Air squadron, it would eventually become the first F-15 equipped squadron.  In the Vietnam War, it provided dedicated protection for the strike packages from enemy aircraft.

    Major Lodge was generally accepted as the best fighter pilot in the squadron.  Why, you might ask.  Well, at the time of his death, he had been awarded the Silver Star 5 times, the Distinguished Flying Cross 7 times and the Air Medal 9 times.  Those are not "Attendance" medals, those are received for actual achievement and valor. juvat
    Colonel Roger Locher -
    Locher reported later that the aircraft went into a kind of right slice. He noted that the right engine's RPM was at zero and the left was decreasing towards idle. It looked to him that the right engine had exploded. Lodge and his WSO discussed their options. They saw that the hydraulic pressure was low and falling. When Lodge tried the autopilot, it didn't respond. The rear of the jet was on fire, and as the plane yawed the slipstream pushed the flames up over Locher's canopy. Locher later recalled, "We immediately went out of control, flopping from side to side. Then fire started coming in the back of the cockpit. It seared my canopy with bubbles and I couldn't see out any more. The airplane slowed down and was approaching a flat spin." Passing through 8000 MSL, Locher told Lodge that it was getting too hot and he'd better get out. Lodge looked over his right shoulder at Locher and said, "Well, why don't you eject then?"

    Lodge had about three weeks previously told fellow squadron members, as he had done several times before, that he would not allow himself to be captured because of his extensive knowledge of classified and sensitive information. Locher successfully ejected at about 8,000 feet but because the remaining planes were busy with the other MiGs, and due to smoke, no one saw his parachute canopy. Two MiG-19s buzzed Locher as he descended, so he knew the enemy was aware he had survived. He estimated it took about 30 seconds for the jet to impact the ground, but never saw Lodge's chute.

    Locher was afraid to use his URC-64 rescue radio as he parachuted because it was difficult to remove from the zippered pocket of his survival vest and he was not sure he could get it back in. He figured out his rough location and managed to steer his chute about 2,000 yards away from the plane burning below him and towards a nearby mountain side. After he landed, he couldn't hide his parachute because it was stuck in the trees overhead.

    He removed a couple of essential items from his survival pack and left the remainder behind. His survival vest contained a pistol, two pints of water, a first aid kit, insect repellent, mosquito netting, and a knife. He knew from prior briefings that he could not expect SAR this deep in North Vietnam, north of the Red River. Once on the ground and under the trees, he could not hear any jets overhead. He also knew his radio could not penetrate the dense jungle canopy overhead.

    Locher listened to hear if a search party was looking for him. He camouflaged his trail for about 100 yards and then climbed the eastern side of the mountain to its peak. He got his bearings and then hid in bushes on the west slope. For three days, Locher listened as a search party of local farmers beat the bushes up and down the east side of the mountain, searching for him. He hid in a brush pile and at one point over the next three days, a boy came within 30 feet of his hiding place. In the evening he returned to the peak. On the second day he picked up radio traffic from American aircraft almost 100 miles to his south, but they did not hear his radio beeper or voice.

    He decided his best chance for rescue was to cross the forested, hilly terrain and get to the heavily cultivated Red River Valley, swim the river, and work his way to the sparsely inhabited mountains to the south. He figured it would take him 45 days. He traveled only at first light and at dusk, avoiding the local farmers, and living off the land.

    He was able to find plenty of water but only occasionally fruit and berries to eat. He evaded capture and covered over 19 km, gradually losing 30 pounds and his strength. On the 10th day he came within 5 feet of being discovered. Following a well-used trail early one morning, he suddenly had to evade local farmers. He hid in a nearby field where there was little concealment, but pulled leaves and debris over himself. He lay there all day as children from a village he discovered a short distance away played in his vicinity. At one point a water buffalo nearly stepped on him, and a boy came to fetch the animal, only a few feet from Locher. That evening he spotted a hill near the village alongside the Red River, the last hill before the wide open fields of the Red River basin. He was about 5 miles from Yên Bái Airfield.

    He hid on the hill for the next 13 days and watched for American aircraft. On June 1, 1972, he was finally able to contact a flight of American jets overhead, calling, "Any U.S. aircraft, if you read Oyster 1 Bravo, come up on Guard". R. Stephen Ritchie, in one of the F-4 aircraft overhead and who had witnessed Locher's jet fall out of the sky, remembered Locher's call sign and answered his call. Locher calmly responded, "Guys I've been down here a long time, any chance of picking me up?" Ritchie replied, "You bet!" Locher's transmissions left some Americans who did not hear his call in doubt about the authenticity of his message, and they believed that the NVA may have manipulated a POW into impersonating him, setting a trap for the would-be rescuers.
    Major Lodge was leading Oyster Flight that day, four F-4D Phantoms of the "Triple Nickel" - the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. Lodge and Locher were flying "Oyster One," the element lead for Oyster Flight (Oyster Three) was Captain Steve Ritchie, with his WSO Captain Chuck DeBellevue right behind him.

    The top USAF MiG killers over Vietnam.

    Left to right -

    Brigadier General Richard S. Ritchie -
    The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Captain Richard Stephen Ritchie, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Aircraft Commander, 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in action on 28 August 1972. On that date, while leading his flight to its assigned position deep in hostile territory, Captain Ritchie engaged and destroyed a hostile aircraft while it was attempting an attack on another flight of allied aircraft. Through superior maneuvering and use of aircraft capabilities, and in complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Ritchie was successful in destroying his fifth North Vietnamese MiG-21. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Captain Ritchie reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
    Colonel Charles B. DeBellevue -
    The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Captain Charles B. DeBellevue (AFSN: 0-3210693), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Weapon Systems Officer in the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in action on 9 September 1972. On that date, while protecting a large strike force attacking a high priority target deep in hostile territory, Captain DeBellevue engaged and destroyed a hostile aircraft. Through superior judgment and use of aircraft capabilities, and in complete disregard for his own safety, Captain DeBellevue was successful in destroying his fifth hostile aircraft, a North Vietnamese MiG-19. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Captain DeBellevue reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
    On the same mission where Major Lodge was lost and Captain Locher was forced to evade the enemy on the ground, Ritchie and DeBellevue scored their very first MiG kill -
    At 0942, forewarned 19 minutes earlier by the EC-121 "Disco" over Laos and then by "Red Crown", the US Navy radar picket ship, the guided missile cruiser USS Chicago, Oyster flight engaged an equal number of MiG-21s head-on, scattering them. Oyster flight shot down three and nearly got the fourth, but fell victim to a MiG tactic dubbed "Kuban tactics" after those of the Soviet World War II ace Pokryshkin, in which a GCI*-controlled flight of MiG-19s trailed so that they could be steered behind the American fighters maneuvering to attack the MiG-21s. Maj. Lodge was shot down and killed, despite clumsy flying by the MiG-19's. (He might have been able to eject, but had previously told his flightmates that he would not be captured because of his extensive knowledge of classified and sensitive information.) Almost simultaneously Ritchie and Capt Chuck DeBellevue, his WSO, rolled into a firing position behind the remaining MiG-21 of the original 4 with a radar lock, launched two Sparrows and scored a kill with the second. (Source)
    That team went on to shoot down four more MiGs during their tour in Vietnam.

    (The original post introducing these heroes is here.)

    Links to newer pages in The Hall of Honor are here:

    • TBD

    Eagle photo by Andy Morffew