Aircraft Combat History with 2 Tours on 2 Carriers
"Over 200 Combat Missions"
(our plane is 416 in the photos)
June thru October 1951 Aboard
the USS Boxer (CV21), VF884
Naval Reserve Squadron from
Olathe, Kansas. This squadron
was known as the "Bitter Birds"
using the Kansas Jayhawk on
their jacket patch. This exact
aircraft was flown in combat by
the following pilots:
Lt. Duane Edge from Brondon, Mississippi
Lt. R. Fritz Schierenberg from Fort Collins, Co.
Lt. Robert Warner from Pensacola, Florida
Lt. Bill Wallace
We have in hand their logbook entries showing
the types of missions flown and targets struck.
While in Korea, The "Bitter Birds" flew
1,519 missions, dropping 750,000 lbs
of bombs and firing 3,800 rockets, also
1,400,000 rounds of ammunition. The
fighting did take its terrible toll. Eight
pilots of VF884 were killed or listed as
missing in action, including the squadron's
skipper Lcdr. G.F. Carmichael USNR.
Normal squadron compliment of pilots were
approximately 22 to 24 pilots.
(our plane is 308 in the photos)
December thru May 1951 Aboard USS
Valley Forge (CV45), VF653 Naval
Reserve Squadron from Akron, Ohio.
This squadron patch emblem consisted
of a dragon holding a shield which had a
golden triangle and a checkerboard stripe.
The golden triangle signified the large
percentage of Pittsburgh area pilots in the
squadron. The checkerboard stripe
signified the winning of the Cleveland
National Air Races twice by their Skipper
LtCmdr. Cook Cleland. Cook won both
races with Corsairs. Many other pilots of
VF653 previously flew in World War II.
"Korean War Hero" was flown by at
least four VF653 pilots in combat.
Cmdr. Cook Cleland Pensacola, Flordia
Lt. Henry Sulkowski Bel Air, Maryland
Lt. J.R. Rohleder (became Admiral) Az
Lt. Robert Jeffel Pittsburgh, Pa
Lt. David Robertson San Diego, CA
Six pilots of VF653 were killed or listed
as missing in action during this combat
tour. The greatest toll was taken by enemy
radar guided anti-aircraft guns while
repeatedly striking the same targets.
"Korean War Hero" still retains three (3) combat flak repair patches on the starboard (right wing) wing and rear fuselage area. The aircraft was retired from Naval service on July 5, 1956. From approximately 1960 to 1970, the aircraft flew with the Honduran Air Force. In 1970 was sold to an American Airline pilot and brought to the USA. Joe & Jim Tobul bought this airplane in 1981 and started a very long rebuilding project. Ten (10) years later "Korean War Hero" proudly flew again on December 8, 1991 fittingly over the Pittsburgh skies.
Jim Tobul currently reside in South Carolina.