“Aviation Midshipmen Strike North Korea”
Air Group Nineteen, embarked in USS Princeton (CV-37), arrived in waters off the east coast of Korea in early December 1950. I was a pilot in Fighter Squadron 192, flying the beautiful bent-wing Chance Vought F4U Corsair.
We arrived in time to provide close air support to our Marines as they evacuated the Chosin Plateau in a massive operation. We flew our first missions on 5 December. Less than a month later, with a grand total of nine combat missions under my belt, I had the fortune of leading a flight of Corsairs and Skyraiders that destroyed a North Korean Headquarters complex at Hoeyang on 3 January 1951.
Our squadron was heavy with Ensigns--14 of our 24 pilots were of this exalted rank--and because of this I was assigned as a section leader.
On this particular flight, my division leader had a rough running engine and aborted his mission. He returned to Princeton, leaving me in charge of our three remaining Corsairs. We were in company with four VA-195 Skyraiders flown by four ensigns, and, after comparing napkin numbers, I became the flight leader.
Hoeyang was located at 38° 41’ N, 127° 43’ E. It was in the eastern part of the Korean peninsula about 30 miles north of what is now the demilitarized zone. Lots of snow on the ground did not help as we searched the dreary landscape. After a time, I finally found the headquarters building--large, rectangular and five stories high. It was sitting out in the open all by itself.
The Skyraiders, carrying the heaviest ordnance, made the first runs on the target. Gene Sizemore (Ottumwa Class 2-47), their leader, dropped his 2,000 pound proximity fused GP bomb squarely on target and we all witnessed on large building completely obliterated in an instant. I have never seen such destruction from a single bomb--the building was simply pulverized. There was no need for any other airplane to drop ordnance. Thus the first and only Air Group Nineteen "all-ensign strike group" enjoyed success at Hoeyang.
But was this also an all Aviation Midshipmen strike group? I rather imagine it was. In our Air Group, nearly all the ensigns had been Aviation Midshipmen.
I do know that the VF-192 part of the strike group, myself, Jake Jacobssen and Carl Moling were. Perhaps Gene Sizemore can supply the information on his squadron mates and verify that this was indeed an all Aviation Midshipmen. effort.
(Ed note: In discussion with Gene Sizemore regarding this mission, he agrees that if the Skyraiders from VA-195 were flown by ensigns then they had to be former Aviation Midshipmen. Since Gene Tissot was flight leader and the "bull,” ranking ensign then it truly had been an all "Aviation Midshipmen Strike.")
“More Aviation Midshipmen ‘Firsts’”
Gene has suggested that we do another go-round of 'FIRSTS' by Aviation Midshipmen. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.
Such as: Neil Armstrong was the first man (and an AvMidn) on the moon. Gus Kinnear was the first (and only) AvMidn to get four stars.
Gene suggests: A "First" AvMidn to: Make a trap [carrier landing]. Make a night trap. Make a cat shot. Make 1,000 hours. Make 10,000 hours. Gene has some personal ones: "First" AvMidn to Command a carrier: 3 Dec 71 (date)?, Command a nuclear powered carrier. Make 1,000 traps: 31 Oct '67.
More: Lou Ives, first former AvMidn to check out two immersion suits under adverse conditions: Mk-2 in the Sea of Japan 13 Nov 1951; Mk-4 in Wonsan Harbor 2 Feb 1953.