by Paul Kauttu

It was sometime in 1953, and 1 was telling war stories at the O'Club at Nellis. It was getting late, maybe a little after 9 pm. My CO, Major Bill Whisner, came to me and asked me if I'd do him a little favor. "Paul, would you mind saddling-up a T-Bird (T-33), and flying out to Travis to pick up Jim Jabara?" I asked him when, and he replied "Now." In less than a half hour, I was on my way to Travis AFB in California.

In very short order, I was soon on my way back to Nellis with 'him' in the back seat The 'him' was Major James J. Jabara, first jet ace of the Korean War. He stuffed his B-4 bag down between the two cockpits, which promptly rendered my ejection seat inoperative. But I didn't say anything. When we reached our cruising altitude, about 20 grand for the short flight back to Nellis, I pulled the power back to about 96%. But almost immediately I saw the throttle advance back to full power. And I heard him mutter something about hauling ass.

Shortly thereafter, the cockpit became polluted with smoke. quite obviously coming from a good quality Cuban blend. Again, I said nothing, and we pressed on to a smooth landing on runway 20 at Nellis. It was about midnight. It had been a big event for me, and it still is. Major James Jabara was truly one of a kind flamboyant, respected, friendly. Too bad the likes of he, Whisner, Fernandez, and Kinchloe aren't able to enjoy these later years. They're all greatly missed.

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