The jet age, and the new United
States Air Force, came to Korea when American and South Korean forces were still reeling
from the surprise invasion from the North. Within a month our Nation's newest branch
of service proved its superiority, wiping out the 150-plane air force of North Korea.
For six months American pilots ruled the skies and gave ground troops necessary
support to turn the tide of the ground war. Then, China entered the war.
In the three years that followed more than 1,000 US
Air Force airplanes went down. The newest branch of service suffered more than 1,700
casualties. Along the way, however, the brave knights of the skies destroyed
more than 1,000 enemy tanks, 18,000 bunkers and gun emplacements, and put more than
100,000 enemy vehicles out of service.
Air Force fighter pilots not only found themselves
pitted against the jet-powered Soviet MiGs, but restrictive rules of engagement that
prevented them from following their prey across the Yalu River. The traditional
ingenuity of the American airman faced new tests in MiG Alley and elsewhere over
North and South Korea, and the men of the US Air Force rose to the challenge. They
won ten out of every eleven engagements of the war.
Victory in the air came at a great price during
every war. During World War I, 3 of the 4 men awarded Medals of Honor died in their
moment of valor. During World War II of the 38 airmen awarded Medals of Honor, only
15 survived. Four airmen of the new United States Air Force received their Nation's
highest military award in Korea. NONE SURVIVED!