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Ted Williams

Posted by Jolly on October 4, 2007

                       
TED WILLIAMS. Women lusted after him, men idolized him. Of course, that’s a very common situation with fighter pilots.
 
Ted Williams would probably not be an obvious choice in a list of fighter pilot heroes. However, Ted Williams was just about everything a fighter pilot wants to be. Ted was an accomplished hunter, a world-class fisherman, arguably the greatest hitter in American professional baseball history, always the center of attention, and he was a fighter pilot.
 
Ted gave up five years of his professional baseball career as a Marine aviator in World War II anted_williams_boston.jpgd  th e Korean conflict. In 1941, at the age of twenty-three, he hit .406 for the Boston Red Sox, an incredible feat, especially considering that no one’s broken .400 in the sixty-five plus years since. World events soon changed his future and in May 1942 Ted signed up to become a Marine fighter pilot.
 
In May 1944, Ted got his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was selected to remain in Pensacola, Florida as a flight instructor. He was finally shipped out to the Pacific in August 1945 only to have the war come to an end before he saw combat. He finished his tour in the Marines playing baseball in Hawaii and was finally discharged in January 1946. OK, nothing impressive, just one of the hundreds of thousands of men called to serve his country.
 
Ted picked up where he left off, back with the Boston Red Sox until his country called again in January 1952. The Marines were going to war in Korea and they needed pilots to fly their new jet fighters. Ted was back in uniform in May and finally arrived in Korea in February 1953. He was flying the F-9 Panther with VMF-311. After two local area orientation sorties he stepped for his first combat mission on 16 February.
 
Attacking a supply center just outside Pyong-yang, the capital of North Korea, Ted’s jet was hit by enemy ground fire. His main problems, no radio and leaking fuel. Finally back over friendly territory, he set up to land at Suwon Air Base. Things only got worse when he lowered his landing gear because now the fuel ignited. Ted crossed the fence at 200 knots, touched down hard and the gear collapsed. After a 9000-foot slide the F-9 stopped just off the left side of the runway. The jet didn’t blow up, there wasn’t enough fuel left for a big explosion.
 
Ted Williams would fly thirty-nine combat missions over a five and a half month tour before he was evacuated out after a three-week battle with pneumonia and then earache and sinus problems. He was discharged from the Marines for the final time in July 1953.
 
Ted’s magnificent baseball career, which began in 1939, finally ended in 1960. His fame and celebrity grew until he died 5 July 2002
 
Ted Williams was a fighter pilot. Certainly not the most illustrious of fighter pilots, just a fighter pilot that stepped up when his country called in time of need. That’s what fighter pilots do.

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