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Frederick C. Blesse

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Frederick C. Blesse

Frederick Corbin "Boots" Blesse
Nickname Boots
Born (1921-08-22)August 22, 1921
Colón, Panama Canal Zone
Died October 31, 2012(2012-10-31) (aged 91)[1]
Melbourne, Florida, U.S.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1945–1975
Rank Major General
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (6)
Bronze Star with "V" device
Air Medal (21)
Air Force Commendation Medal (2)
Army Commendation Medal
Purple Heart
Cross of Gallantry
Vietnam Honor Medal, 3d Class
Vietnam Honor Medal, 5th Class

Frederick Corbin "Boots" Blesse (August 22, 1921 – October 31, 2012) was a retired American Air Force major general and flying ace. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on March 22, 2013, officially 'flying west'. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1945. He flew two combat tours during the Korean War, completing 67 missions in F-51s, 35 missions in F-80s and 121 missions in F-86s. During the second tour in F-86s, he was officially credited with shooting down nine MiG-15s and one La-9.

At the time of his return to the United States in October 1952, he was America's leading jet ace.

General Blesse remained with fighter aircraft for practically his entire military career. During the 1955 Air Force Worldwide Gunnery Championship, he won all six trophies offered for individual performance, a feat never equaled. During the Vietnam War, he served two tours in Southeast Asia; while on his first tour in 1967-1968, he flew 156 combat missions.

In December 1952 General Blesse went to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where he served as a jet fighter gunnery instructor, squadron operations officer and squadron commander. He was a member of the Air Training Command Fighter Gunnery Team in 1954 and 1955. Both years this team won the Air Force Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Championship. During the 1955 gunnery meet, General Blesse, flying an F-86F aircraft, won all six trophies offered for individual performance, a feat that has never been equaled.

During this tour of duty, General Blesse wrote his fighter tactics book, No Guts, No Glory. This book has been used as a basis of fighter combat operations for the Royal Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, Chinese Nationalist, Korean Air Force, and U.S. Air Force since 1955. As recently as 1973, 3,000 copies were reproduced and sent to tactical units in the field.

In February 1956 he was transferred to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as chief of the Fighter Division of Crew Training Air Force. General Blesse was assigned to the 32d Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Soesterberg Air Base, the Netherlands, in July 1958, and served as base and squadron commander of the F-100 Super Sabre, F-102 organization. He returned to the United States in August 1961 as a member of the Air Staff with the inspector general, Norton Air Force Base, California.

In 1965 he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C. During this assignment he attended night school and earned a master's degree in international relations at The George Washington University.

General Blesse again volunteered for combat duty and in April 1967 was assigned as director of operations for the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. During this one-year tour of duty, he flew 108 combat missions over North Vietnam and another 46 in Laos and South Vietnam. He was decorated for valor for helping unload the bombs from a burning F-4 Phantom II aircraft during a rocket attack.

In May 1968 he again was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, this time as director of operations of the U.S. Air Force's first General Dynamics F-111 wing, the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing, and in June 1969 became commander. In July 1970 General Blesse became commander of the 831st Air Division at George Air Force Base, California, and then was selected for another tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam as assistant director of operations for Seventh Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Air Base.

In September 1971 he was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and in March 1972 became deputy chief of staff for operations. In November 1973 he was assigned as senior Air Force member, Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

General Blesse was appointed deputy inspector general of the U.S. Air Force in August 1974.

He retired from the USAF in 1975, with more than 6,500 flying hours in fighter-type aircraft and more than 650 hours combat time to his credit.

Awards and decorations

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters; Bronze Star with "V" device; Air Medal with 20 oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster; Army Commendation Medal; Purple Heart; and from the Republic of Vietnam the Cross of Gallantry; Vietnam Honor Medal, 3d Class; and the Honor Medal, 5th Class.

He is a command pilot with more than 6,500 flying hours, most of which have been in fighter aircraft including the P-40, P-47, P-51 Mustang, P-80, F-86, F-100, F-102, A-7, F-104, F-106, F-4, and F-111. He has more than 650 hours combat flying and is the nation's sixth ranking jet ace.


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