Ace of the Day: Brig. General Frederick R. “Fritz” Payne, USMC (Ret)

by Jan Baker 20 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Aces, Kickstarter, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

FREDERICK R. “FRITZ” PAYNE

Brigadier General, USMC (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 5 1/2

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Frederick Rounsville (Fritz) Payne, Jr., was born on July 31, 1911, at Elmira, New York. He attended Culver Military Academy in Indiana before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in July 1930. Resigning from the Academy in 1932, he completed his college education at the University of Arizona in January 1935. Upon graduation he resigned his Army ROTC commission and entered the Marine Corps aviation cadet program that July. Ordered to flight training at Pensacola, Payne was commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1936 and designated a Naval Aviator in September.

Major Payne entered combat at Guadalcanal in September 1942 on detached duty with VMF-223. His first victory was a half-share in a Japanese twin-engine bomber on September 14, followed by a solo victory two weeks later. When his own squadron, VMF-212, arrived in October, Payne quickly added four more victories – two bombers and a pair of Zekes between October 18 and 23 to become a Wildcat ace.

Following World War II, Colonel Payne remained in aviation assignments. A variety of duties followed including 1st Marine Air Wing in Korea, helicopter unit command and responsibility for planning and control of land and air elements in atomic weapons tests during 1957. He retired from active duty with the rank of brigadier general on August 1, 1958.

Decorations: Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars

Source: American Fighter Aces Album ©1996

Ace of the Day: Colonel Billy G. Edens, USAAF (Ret)

by Jan Baker 19 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Aces, Kickstarter, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

BILLY G. EDENS

Colonel, USAAF (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 7

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ACES_Archival_Edens001Billy Gene Edens, born in Cassville, Missouri on January 21, 1923, joined the Army Air Forces on June 27, 1942. After a year in the enlisted ranks, he was accepted as an aviation cadet on May 3, 1943. He took all of his flight training in Alabama – primary training in Decatur, basic at Cortland and advanced at Selma, where he received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant on November 3, 1943.

In April 1944 Lieutenant Edens was assigned to the 62nd Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group, out of Boxted, England. On June 8, 1944, the 62nd supported bombers attacking Dreux.. On the way back to base Edens came across Luftwaffe fighters taking off from Illiers Airdrome. He pursued an Me-109 which was closing on Blue Leader, Mark Moseley, and exploded it. Soon Moseley again found a Messerschmitt on his tail and again Edens closed, blasting it from 100 yards. On

July 5, Edens downed a FW-190 for his fourth victory, and two days later he became an ace on a “Ramrod” mission to Leipzig. On September 10, his P-47 was shot down near Trier while strafing Seligenstadt Airdrome and he spent the rest of the war as a POW.

Remaining in the Air Force following the war, Edens flew F-84s in Korea and F-100s in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel.

Decorations: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with one OLC and the Air Medal with 15 OLCs

Source: American Fighter Aces Album ©1996

Ace of the Day: Lt. Ralston M. Pound, Jr., USNR (Ret)

by Jan Baker 18 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Aces, Kickstarter, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

RALSTON M. POUND, JR.

Lieutenant, USNR (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 6  and one probable

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Born on December 31, 1920, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ralston Murphy Pound, Jr., attended North Carolina State University before enlisting in the Navy flight program on August 28, 1941. He received his wings and ensign’s commission on July 18, 1942, at Opa Locka, Florida. Promoted to lieutenant(jg) on July 1, 1943, Pound was assigned to VF-16 flying F6F Hellcats from the USS Lexington (CV-16) in August.

At Kwajelein Atoll, Pound shot down a Zeke and a Hap and probably destroyed another Hap on the 4th of December. The carrier was torpedoed that night and limped back to Hawaii and on to the States for repairs. Pound joined VF-9 on the Essex for strikes on Truk, February 16 and 17 and Saipan on the 22nd. He rejoined the Lexington and VF-16 at Majuro Islands in mid-March. The American carrier force again approached the reinforced Japanese stronghold at Truk in the early morning of April 29th. Pound shot down three Zekes to become an ace. Moving up to the Marianas, he was credited with a Judy during the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” on June 19 for his last victory.

Leaving active duty in September 1945, Pound remained in the Naval Reserves, retiring in July 1969 as a commander. He joined his father’s office supply and equipment firm in 1946, becoming president in 1968 until he retired in 1985.

Decorations: Distinguished Flying Cross with one Gold Star and the Air Medal with 2 Gold Stars

Source: American Fighter Aces Album ©1996

Ace of the Day: Captain Jefferson J. DeBlanc, USMCR (Ret)

by Jan Baker 17 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Aces, Kickstarter, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

JEFFERSON J. DEBLANC

Captain, USMCR (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 9  and one probable

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DeBlancJefferson Joseph DeBlanc was born on February 15, 1921, in Lockport, Louisiana and was reared in St. Martinsville, Louisiana. He entered Navy flight training in July 1941 under the V-5 Program. Transferring to the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation on April 3, 1942, he was assigned to North Island in San Diego.

In October 1942, DeBlanc joined VMF-112 “Wolfpack” ten days before they sailed for the Solomon Islands. He entered combat on November 10, 1942, with less than 10 hours in the F4F Wildcat, and scored a double and one probable two days later when fighter pilots of the “Cactus Air Force” shot down 24 of 25 Betty bombers making runs on the fleet off Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.

DeBlanc’s big afternoon came on January 31, 1943, when he shot down two floatplanes and three Zeros about sundown. He was shot down during this engagement, but was picked up by the coast watchers’ network and returned 13 days later. For this action DeBlanc received the Medal of Honor.

In 1944 he returned to the Pacific with VMF-422 to the Marshall Islands. The unit later moved up to Okinawa in April 1945, where he scored his last victory, a Val, on May 28. DeBlanc retired with the rank of colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1972, and then he taught in Europe for several years.

Decorations: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars

Source: American Fighter Aces Album ©1996

Ace of the Day: Lt. General Sanford K. Moats

by Jan Baker 16 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Aces, Kickstarter, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

SANFORD K. MOATS

Lieutenant General, USAAF (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 8 1/2 and one damaged

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ACES_Archival_Moats_004Born in Kansas City, Missouri on December 4, 1921, Sanford Kenneth (Sandy) Moats attended Kansas State College before entering the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet. He completed pilot training and received his commission as a second lieutenant on December 5, 1943.

Sent to England in early 1944, Lieutenant Moats was assigned to the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group, stationed at Bodney. Flying the P-51 Mustang he was credited with 8 1/2 German aircraft destroyed between July 18, 1944, and January 1, 1945, including four FW-190s on New Years’ Day.

In 1965 Moats became vice commander of the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at England AFB, Louisiana, and flew 18 combat missions with the wing in Vietnam during temporary deployment to southeast Asia. Following the wing’s move to Torrejon, Spain, he became wing commander and, after his promotion to brigadier general, was named vice commander of Sixteenth Air Force.

From 1969 to 1975, General Moats was vice commander, Tenth Air Force, commander of the 26th Air Division, commander of Sixteenth Air Force and commander of the Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force in Turkey. In 1975 he became vice- commander of the Tactical Air Command, from which he retired as a lieutenant general on July 1, 1977.

Decorations: Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one OLC, Air Medal with 11 OLCs, Spanish Grand Cross with White Ribbon and Belgian Croix de Guerre with Palm

Source: American Fighter Aces Album ©1996

Ace of the Day: 1st Lt. James L. Brooks, USAAF (Ret)

by Jan Baker 12 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Aces, Kickstarter, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

JAMES L. BROOKS

First Lieutenant, USAAF (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 13

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Brooks Jim on P-51 Wing709James Lynn Brooks, was born on January 8, 1921, in Binton, Virginia. On April 6, 1942, he joined the Army as a private before being accepted for aviation cadet training on August 23. Upon graduation as a second lieutenant on May 24, 1943, he was sent to Panama where he flew P-39s and P-40s.

Lieutenant Brooks recorded his first victory over Campina on May 18, 1944, downing an Italian Fiat G-50. He shot down three Me-109s on May 24 and 29 and June 23, respectively, and became an ace on July 18 with the destruction of an Italian Mc-205.

Promoted to captain on September 9, 1944, Brooks remained in the Air Force and returned to combat during the Korean War. Sent to Korea, he flew F-86s with the 4th Fighter Group and participated in the first big all-jet air battle over the Yalu River involving twelve MiGs and four Sabres on December 22, 1950.

Brooks resigned from the Air Force on April 16, 1951, and joined North American Aviation as an engineering test pilot. He was one of the founders and first president of the American Fighter Aces Association and past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Decorations: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with 20 Oak Leaf Clusters and a Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster

Source: American Fighter Aces Album ©1996

BTS – Photographer’s Insight: John Slemp

Wings of Valor Kickstarter Project…

Provided by John Slemp [Photographer]

www.Aerographs.com


 

Last fall I had the opportunity to contribute photographically to the Wings of Valor book project.  It is an homage to the still-living men who downed at least five enemy aircraft during World War II…otherwise known as “aces.”  My assignment was to create portraits of two men in Georgia and South Carolina… Commander Leroy Robinson, and Commander Robert Maxwell.

Commander Robinson was the day’s first subject, and we photographed him in Tignall, Georgia.  He still lives in a farm house that was built shortly before the Civil War…yes that Civil War.  In failing health he nonetheless bravely rose to the challenge of being photographed.  His son mentioned that since he was an airline Captain for so long, “he is used to having his way,” so we complied with his unspoken request to be photographed with his memorabilia…as if we would have done it any other way!  A true sport, I wish we could have stayed longer to hear more of his story.

 

Commander Leroy Robinson sports his original G-1 flight jacket.  He flew in both WWII and Korea, and later had a 32 year career with Delta Air Lines.  Tignall, Georgia.  ©2014 John Slemp

Commander Leroy Robinson sports his original G-1 flight jacket.  He flew in both WWII and Korea, and later had a 32 year career with Delta Air Lines.  Tignall, Georgia.  ©2014 John Slemp

 

Moving on to Columbia, South Carolina, Commander Robert Maxwell still lives in the town he returned to after the war.  There he raised a family and prospered in the insurance business.  He enthusiastically greeted us at the door upon our arrival, and was a real treat to visit with.  While noticing his memorabilia, he remarked that his wife (in the picture on his desk) wouldn’t permit any of it in the house.  It was only after she passed away that it came in to his office from the garage, where it now proudly depicts his naval aviation past.

Commander Robert Maxwell flew with George H.W. Bush, and at 95 still gets around quite well.  Columbia, South Carolina.  ©2014 John Slemp

Commander Robert Maxwell flew with George H.W. Bush, and at 95 still gets around quite well.  Columbia, South Carolina.  ©2014 John Slemp

 

These two men are just a few of the remarkable pilots who courageously defended our country during WWII, and who fought to liberate those who had fallen under the oppressor’s heel.  I would ask that you support the effort to document their history by contributing to the book’s Kickstartercampaign.  Going on now, it is a worthy endeavor and should prove to be a surefire collectable book too.  Enjoy!

 

 

Article Source: https://aerographs.squarespace.com/aerographssquarespacecom/post_id-3

Our Supporting Photographers

by Jan Baker 05 Mar 2015 in Photographers, Wings of Valor Comments: 0

photographersThe photographic challenge to complete this project is a “race against time” because of the high mortality rate of the Aces, most of whom are now in their 90s. In fact one of them, Brig. General Frederick R. Payne, is 103. To ensure that as many Aces as possible could be included in the project, other photographers were recruited to complete the portraits of those Aces located throughout the country as a means to expedite this phase of the project.

Today with help of these photographers, we have photographed over 80 Aces for the project. These photographers were approached, by the Wings of Valor creative team, based on their knowledge and skills for photography, and their shared passion to help preserve the Aces legacy.

We would like to thank each and every photographer who has participated in making this project successful. To see their work, please check out the “Aces” gallery. We are continuing to add their images to the site so make sure to check back frequently for new work! Also watch for blogs from our photographers talking about their personal experience working with us and the Aces!

 

 

Ace of the Day: Cmdr. Willis E. Hardy, USN (Ret)

by Jan Baker 03 Mar 2015 in Ace of the Day, Wings of Valor Comments: 2

WILLIS E. “BILL” HARDY

Commander, USN (Ret)

WWII :: Confirmed Kills- 6 1/2, 1 probable, & 2 1/5 damaged 

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Bill Hardy #2Willis Everett (Bill) Hardy was born on March 3, 1920, near Corning, California. After attending local schools and Southern California Junior College, he left the farm and enlisted in the Navy on February 13, 1939. After working up through the ranks as an aviation machinist’s mate, he applied for flight training and subsequently graduated with an ensign’s commission at Corpus Christi, Texas on December 16, 1943.

 

Ensign Hardy was assigned to VF-17 in February 1944 and in early 1945 participated in the Tokyo strikes, the Iwo Jima invasion, and the Okinawa/Kyushu campaigns. His most memorable day came on April 6 when he downed two Zekes, one Val, and two Judys in the Chichi Jima area north of Okinawa to become an “ace-in-a-day”. That day culminated in his first night carrier landing, after Hardy and his wingman stayed airborne too long heading off kamikazes. Six days later he shared in the destruction of a Tojo with Marine Second Lieutenant Wendell M. Browning, and was credited with another Tojo “probable” and a damaged Frank 10 miles north of Kikai. He scored his last victory, a Frank, on May 14.

Remaining in the Navy following the war, Hardy served as operations officer on the USS Corson (AVP-37) from March 1954 and as executive officer for VF-51 from April 1956. He retired from the Navy on April 1, 1959, as a commander and then pursued a career in the aerospace business until his retirement from Collins Radio in 1983.

Decorations: Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation