This story has heen copied from the 'Certificate Of Authenticity' for the lithograph "SHOOTER'S ODDS". The story and photo are published with the permission of Aeredrome Press, 3121 So. 7th St, Tacoma, WA 98405. The lithograph portray's Capt Ralph Parr's first encounter with the MiG-15 - sixteen of them!
Cruising at 43,000 feet, twenty miles south and parallel to the Yalu River, John Shark Flight of the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, had already armed their guns and checked their sights. In the lead was 1st Lt. Mervin Ricker, with Col. Robert Dixon as No.2, followed by the second element with 2nd Lt. Al Cox as No.3, and No.4 Capt. Ralph Parr on one of his early missions in F-86s. The weather was CAVU (ceiling and visibility unlimited) - perfect for hunting MiGs this 7th day of June 1953.
With the first call of 'bandit tracks' from ROMEO, the GCI controller at the forward radar station, Ricker called "Drop tanks!" On the flight's second swing to the northeast, Parr spotted a flight of MiGs coming from the upper left at an incredible closure rate. "John Shark, break left! MiGs close and firing!"
Fortunately, the MiGs, coming in from 90degrees off, went through 'hit and run' without causing any damage. Ricker had turned after them, but they flashed away and disappeared. With the two flights sepearated, Ricker told John Shark 3 to start a withdrawal. Cox decided to complete a final orbit and nurse his element back up to 41,000 feet, having lost several thousand feet in the break.
Glancing to his right, down at the Yalu, Parr noticed some movement and called it out as very low. Cox radioed back, "I can't see it! You take it, I've got you covered." During the briefing that morning, Al had told Ralph, who had extensive experience in fighters in a previous Korean combat tour in F-80s, that if Ralph called bogies Al couldn't spot, he would clear him and Al would follow.
Rolling over slowly, Parr began a split-S with full power, and headed straight down to intercept what he thought would be a couple of MiGs going south. Cox, seeing Parr roll over toward him, entered a right bank to pick up the Sabre visually as it crossed under him. But it never came by since it was going straight down. Shark 3 asked which way 4 had gone. Ralph replied, "Straight down. Come on down and find me"
With his G-suit fully inflated as the Sabre leveled off at 500 feet under maximum G, Parr tried to gulp some air as his near Mach One jet closed on the MiGs. "I had found my MiG. ..two...nope four...Whoops eight! NO SIXTEEN!" Ralph Parr, who had lived for nothing more than to fly fighters, now found himself alone in the middle of an angry hornet's nest, a whole squadron of 16 enemy aircraft - and he had them cornered!
Rapidly gaining on two flights of four MiGs, Ralph pulled the throttle back to slow his closure rate. Without hesitation, Parr thought to himself, "This may be my last chance with the war winding down. So as long as I'm going to do it, I may as well take the leader and turn the peasants loose!" Ralph lined up on the apparent leader of the eight MiGs as he closed inside of 3,000 feet. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed another eight MiGs to his left, then all hell broke loose as the eight in front broke in all directions.
Still closing, Parr jerked the throttle to idle, popped his speed brakes, and tracked the MIG leader as he pulled the trigger. The sharp curve of the tracers, and the slowing rate of fire got his attention - he was pulling Gs for all he was worth. Before he could let off, the gunsight fuse blew at over 9 Gs, and now he had no working sight.
Slowly overshooting, Parr watched the MiG leader reverse until they were canopy to canopy in a rolling scissors, each looking straight into the other's cockpit. Watching for an opportunity, Ralph saw the MIG pilot make a slight change. With a little forward stick and some rudder, Parr slid his Sabre behind the MiG so close he thought he would hit him with his nose. He backed off to point blank range...about 10 feet...and on the deck. Gunsight or no gunsight, he couldn't miss. But each time he fired, the '86 would stall out due to the extremely tight turn and the vibration of the guns. Parr would then have to work his way back through the MiG's jet wash and into position.
On the fourth or fifth burst, Parr's fighter was soaked with fuel as he again stalled through the turn. The next short burst resulted in flame streaming from the MiG back around both sides of the F-86 and over the canopy. Then the MiG's engine quit. The Sabre shot past as the bandit hit the ground. Parr rolled into a left turn just as a MiG closed in steeply from the left. An immediate overshoot allowed Ralph to reverse....he simply held the trigger down and walked the tracers through before the MiG could get out of range. looking rapidly to his rear again, Parr saw five MiGs trying to cut inside him. A hard left turn kept them at bay, but he was being hosed with cannon fire as each MiG started shooting..."There were five of them firing at me and coming close!" Shooting at anything in front of him as he turned and maneuvered, flat on the deck, Ralph caused another MiG to hit the ground and explode. Whether from gunfire or not Ralph wasn't sure. But the others gave up and broke toward the Yalu as Al Cox showed up.
Both Sabres turned for K-14 (Kimpo) at extreme minimum fuel. Incredibly, throughout this engagement, Parr's Sabre sustained no damage, in spite of the fact that up to seven MiGs literally emptied their guns at him. After assessment of the gun camera film and Cox's account of the battle, Ralph Parr was given credit for two Migs destroyed and one damaged.
Parr's record in Korea stands as one of the most remarkable, a testimony to what agressiveness in combat means. Ralph Parr finished his Sabre fighter tour in Korea with ten victories, a total equaled by only ten other Korean War fighter pilots. Re made all of his kills in a span of 30 missions during the last seven weeks of the war, a time span no other Korean War ace was able to equal.
Col. Ralph Parr's full military career spanned 34 years and three wars, giving him a total of 641 combat missions, including two tours and 427 missions in Vietnam. With over 60 American and foreign decorations, Col. Parr has the further distinction of being the only man ever to be awarded both the Distinguished Service Cross and its successor, the Air Force Cross - the nation's second highest decoration for valor.
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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