Grissom: Fighter Pilot
At the end of World War II, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel. North
Korea was supported by the Soviet Union, South Korea by the United States.
This uneasy agreement fell apart on July 25, 1950 when Communist North Korean
forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. The Soviet Union and the
United States responded with military forces.
At this time, air technology was moving from propeller planes to jets.
Initially, the United States Air Force held superiority in air battles using
propeller planes. The Soviets then unveiled their newest fighter, the MIG-15
jet. Flying more than 100 miles an hour faster than the fastest propeller
plane, the Soviets immediately took complete control of the air.
To meet the challenge, the United States released its newest jet, the North
American F-86 Sabre. One of
the first pilots to fly it was Gus Grissom.
A tour of duty for a fighter pilot required 100 missions. On his second
mission, Grissom was fired upon by a MIG. Soon after, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross for "superlative
airmanship." With six months, he had completed his 100 missions and returned
to the United States.
"For a moment I couldn't figure out what those little red things were going by.
Then I realized I was being shot at." - Gus Grissom