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A Short Time in a Small War

by Charles Hinton
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Other Tigers were Captain Ayotte, Jim Braly, Don Soefker and his buddy Joe Johnson, and of course the Squadron Commander, Fortney. Johnson, out of sheer joy, once performed barrel rolls on his return from a combat mission. I once made a notation in my diary that one of the first three mentioned would not make it back. Captain Braly was shot down but bailed out over Chodo and came back with his crew. Donald Soefker and Joe Johnson
"Donald Soefker & Joe Johnson"
6th Chadwick
"The 6th Chadwick"
Early in my tour each Squadron had a mix of hard-noses and soft-noses. On Feb. 8th then Major Fortney brought one of the hard nosed planes, it was the "6th Chadwick", back muddy and with holes in the nose from flying through the debris of his own rocket blast. Sometime in this period the 13th was to become low level specialists, and all the hard noses were transferred to the 13th.

I remember when Lt. Johnnie Grubbs volunteered to fly an extra mission beyond the required 55 on February 8th. Grubbs flew an airplane called "Old Able", which was the most decrepit airplane on the line, but it was a beautiful and beloved airplane because it took its damage and always came home. Old Able
"Old Able"

Vince Alessi
"Vince Alessi"
On that mission they were hit, and Grubbs couldn't see to fly home due to a wound in the head. Lt. Vince Alessi, the navigator, gave Grubbs a modified on-board GCA from the right seat and directed Grubbs back to a landing at K-8. Alessi and Grubbs both got Silver Stars for that.

(Be sure to check out Vince Alessi's story on the War Stories page!)

It must have seemed it was going to be a hard war for Alessi. On January 4th Alessi was with Dick Gerrity and Robert Ferguson when Dick aborted aircraft Nan on takeoff and went off the end of the runway onto the mud flats. The nose gear collapsed, the hard nose dug into the sand and flipped over on its back. The plane was an unbelievable mess. The frag bombs opened and scattered bomblets everywhere. Amazingly the entire crew got out of the plane OK just before the tide came in to drown them. Robert Ferguson went through the mine field of frags, and dug Alessi out with a piece of the windshield. Robert earned a Soldiers Medal for that. a broken plane
"Nan down"

Al Koscuizsko and June
"Al Koscuiszko and June"
I remember working Purple-11 (the jet jockeys called it MIG alley) with Capt. Al Koscuiszko on February 7th. We stopped a train west of the river at Sinanju. In some of the lowest low level work I ever experienced, we came scooting across the mud flats and PULLED UP to shoot at the engine which was on the embankment of the river. We got lots of steam from the engine but it never exploded. We went around a hill and the flak continued to track us and shoot over the hill - even after we were out of sight. The escape pattern took us over Chonju where other people shot at us. Chonju was an unfriendly place.

I remember the brave North Korean gunners at the Quaksan Curve near the railroad just west of Chonju. Some pilots engaged in duels with them. The North Koreans always fired back. I was happy to stay away from that landmark, but I flew with pilots who attacked it. Reece Black
"Reece Black"

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