It WAS A DAY TO REMEMBER

By James R. Thyng

On July 17, 2004, the towns of Pittsfield and Barnstead, New Hampshire, dedicated a granite memorial to a local hero. The winged obelisk was inscribed with the words, "Brigadier General Harrison Reed Thyng, Patriot, Leader of Men."

Spear-headed by the Pittsfield Historical Society, it took 3+ years to raise the funds necessary to put the monument in place. The obelisk is flanked by four granite stones, one each for the four campaigns in which Harry Thyng fought. During World War 2, first he flew out of England, then North Africa, then to the Pacific; finally to Korea in 1951, where he commanded the famed 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing. A fighter ace in both wars, he scored five times in each war, Harry Thyng was one of only seven with such distinction.

Thanks goes to Sabre Jet Classics for the Winter 2002 issue highlighting the General's career. The widespread coverage made it possible for the Historical Society to reach out nationwide for the monetary assistance needed to make things happen. People in 30 states contributed to the effort which culminated on July 17th in an impressive ceremony attended by soldiers and civilians alike.

Following an aerial demonstration by pre-WWII PT-17's, in which the General took his flying training, a number of speakers recounted Harrison Thyng's moral courage and fierceness in the skies. Among them were United States Senator Judd Gregg, NH; keynote speaker was General Ronald Fogleman, former USAF Chief of Staff; Lt.Gen. Daniel James, Director of the US Air National Guard; and Maj. Gen John Blair, New Hampshire National Guard. Perhaps Major Gordon Beem, USAF Retired, told the most dramatic story - of Harrison Thyng's sacrifices in Korea, and how he took action no matter the personal cost, to ensure air superiority in Korea. General Thyng's three daughters, Judy, Joanna and Jeanie, unveiled the monument as a flight of four F-16s paid a tribute overhead.

The F-16s were from the 309th Fighter Squadron which Harrison Thyng commanded as a First Lieutenant in 1942. The 309th flew British Spitfires then. He was the squadron's first commander. Sixty two years later, the fighter pilots of the 309th saluted their famous leader in a fly-by which ended the dedication ceremony.

For information about the memorial, with pictures, please see "http://www.pittsfield-nh.com/" Hit Enter and Click On Park/Trails.

As the son of Harrison Thyng, I am extremely grateful to all those who helped make the memorial come true. He was a man who will now be forever remembered in granite. He, like the memorial, was a man of granite.


No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.


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