Jim started flying airplanes at a very young age; at the age of nine his dad taught him to fly a Stinson 108. He received his pilot’s certificate in the late ‘70’s and has flown over 30 different types of aircraft. Jim has acquired over 1,000 hours in a Chance Vought F4U aircraft alone. “It’s such an honor to be a part of this program”. Currently, Jim resides in Jackson Hole, WY
From June 1951 to October 1951 “Korean War Hero” was aboard the USS Boxer, CV21, VF884 Navel reserve squadron from Olathe, Kansas. The squadron was known as the “Bitter Birds” using the Jayhawk on their jacket patch. This exact aircraft was flown in combat by the following Pilots:
LT. Duane Edge, Brandon, MS.
LT. R. Fritz Schierenberg, Ft. Collins, CO.
LT. Robert Warner, Pensacola, FL.
In hand are copies of their logbook entries showing the types of missions and targets struct.
While in Korea, “The Bitter Birds” flew 1,519 missions, dropping 750,000 pounds of bombs and firing 3,800 rockets and 1.4 million rounds of ammunition. The fighting did take its toll. Eight pilots of VF884 were killed or listed as missing in action during the war, including the squadron’s skipper LCDR. G.F. Carmichael, USNR.
In November 1951 it was sent to VF-874 in CV-31 with CVG-102. More combat ensued until the carrier headed home in December and Buno 97143 was left in Japan.
During December 1951 – May 1952 now aboard USS Valley Forge, CV-45, VF653, Navel reserve squadron from Akron, Ohio. 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 checkered board stripe signified the winning of the Cleveland National Air Races twice by their skipper LTCDR. Cook Cleland. Many of the pilots of Vf653 previously flew in World War II.
“Korean War Hero” was flown by four VF653 pilots in combat:
CMDR. Cook Cleland, Pensacola, FL.
LT. Robert Jeffel, Pittsburgh, PA.
LT. J.R. Rohleder, Pittsburgh, PA.
Lt. Henry Sulkowski, Pittsbrugh, PA.
Most of the pilots are now deceased. Russ Rohleder retired from Navel service as a Rear Admiral and is currently living in AZ. Sixteen pilots of VF563 were killed or listed as missing in action during this tour. The greatest toll was taken by radar guided anti-aircraft guns.
In August 1952, 97143 was returned to California with VF-653. It was then assigned in March 1953 to NART Oakland, CA. Then in October 1955, 97143 was assigned to NART Grosse Lle, Michigan.
“Korean War Hero” was retired from Navel service on July 5th, 1956.
From approximately 1960 to 1970 the aircraft flew with the Honduran Air Force as FAH-613 during the “Soccer War” with El Salvador.
Joe and Jim Tobul bought it in 1981 and started a very long rebuilding project. Ten (10) years later, Korean War Hero” flew proudly again on December 8, 1991. The aircraft is presently based at Bamberg, SC.