F-94 Starfire Pilot Captain Ernest Craigwell Jr. of 97th FIS, New Castle Airport, 1955

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2 responses

  1. Lt. Col. Ernest Craigwell Jr.

    He recorded more than 6,000 hours, including 4,100 in a fighter plane, between the end of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. He also logged more than 400 combat missions while in the military, but it could be a lot more than that, according to his daughter, because pilots purposely didn’t note every mission they were on.

    “If you were a fighter pilot, you liked to be on combat missions,” she said. “Typically, soldiers would have to go home after their 100th mission, which would be about three months. But he felt he was there to do a job and he always wanted to see that through.”

    When he began his military career, Craigwell was transferred to the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama where he worked as a crew chief due to the cadet program closing months after he arrived. He worked his way up to becoming a fighter pilot and served on air bases across the country before being assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron in the Korean War in 1950.

    Right before he was scheduled to leave Korea, Craigwell was assigned to the Korean Air Force and was part of a group of American soldiers who instructed Korean pilots on how to fly fighter planes and led them into combat. His service in the States and Asia earned him fighter pilot wings from the U.S. and Korean Air Forces, a rare honor.

    June 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    • David Doyle MSgt Ret.

      I remember Strapping Capt. Craigwell in my T-33 one after noon as he was flying out to California to be on the TV show “This is your life” Col Dean Hess.

      December 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

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