A Moment in Air Force History

On May 20, 1951, this Air Force pilot shot down his fifth and sixth MiG-15 and became the first American jet ace, and jet-to-jet ace in history.

A. Lt. Col. James Jabara
B. Col. Francis Gabreski
C. Capt. Manuel Fernandez, Jr.
D. Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr.

Answer: D. Lt. Col. James Jabara became the first American jet ace, and jet-to-jet ace in history on May 20, 1951. He was part of a very large air battle near Sinuiju in northwest Korea. Two flights of F-86 Sabres (28 planes) engaged 50 MiG-15s. Prior to engaging the enemy, the F-86s released their drop tanks. One of Lieutenant Colonel’s Jabara’s tanks did not separate from his aircraft, but he attacked anyway. This was his 63rd mission of an eventual 163. He would end the Korean War as a triple Ace with 15 kills. On Nov. 17, 1966, then Colonel Jabarra and his daughter were killed in an automobile accident. He was about to go to Vietnam.

Did You Know? Col. Francis Gabreski scored 6.5 kills during the Korean War. During WW II he scored 28 kills in Europe. He was a POW from July 1944 until April 1945. Colonel Gabreski retired from the Air Force in 1967, and he died on Jan 31, 2002 at the age of 83.
Capt. Manuel Fernandez, Jr., was the U.S.’s third leading ace of the Korean War. He flew 124 missions and was credited with 14.5 kills. During the Berlin Airlift he flew C-47s. Maj. Fernandez resigned from the Air Force in 1963 purportedly due to racial issues. He was killed in an air crash in the Bahamas on Oct. 17, 1980.
Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr., was the U.S.’s top ace of the Korean War with 16 kills. He began his military career as a B-24 navigator during WW II and died on Aug. 24, 1954 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.