SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – Excellence: the state or
quality of excelling or being exceptionally good; extreme merit;
The Air Force is no stranger to excellence. It
is a virtue ingrained into the service's core values and is an
integral part of each Airman's life. According to those who knew and
served with Maj. Gen. Frederick “Boots” Blesse, a former Air Force
ace pilot, he exemplified excellence during his service.
Current and former Airmen alike, assembled to recognize the
accomplishments of Blesse during a memorial dedication ceremony June
27, 2014, at the 334th Fighter Squadron on Seymour Johnson Air Force
Base, North Carolina.
Betty Blesse, wife of late Maj. Gen. Frederick "Boots" Blesse,
stands with Lt. Col. Donn Yates, 334th Fighter Squadron commander,
after the unveiling of her late husband's monument during a memorial
dedication ceremony, June 27, 2014, at Seymour Johnson Air Force
Base, N.C. The memorial was constructed at the front of the 334th
Fighter Squadron, the unit Blesse was assigned to when he recorded
his 10th aerial kill. (U.S. Air Force photo/ by irman 1st Class
Aaron J. Jenne)
Due to his distinguished career and legacy, the 334th FS
felt that it was only fitting they create a memorial
commemorating the accomplishments of their former ace pilot.
During the ceremony, Blesse's widow, Betty, joined Lt.
Col. Donn Yates, the current 334th FS commander, to unveil a
memorial statue in Blesse's honor. The nearly 6-foot-tall
stone monument boldly stands at the entrance of the 334th FS
building depicting a bust of Blesse and an inscription which
says, “334th Fighter Squadron; Gateway to the Combat Air
Forces; Following in the footsteps of legends ... Maj. Gen.
Frederick C. “Boots” Blesse; Double Ace; ‘No Guts, No
“We established this memorial to remind our
incoming students as well as our outgoing graduates that it
is our warrior spirit that will often be decisive in any
future conflict,” said Lt. Col. Donn Yates, 334th FS
commander. “Their mindset must rely on the training they
received here as well as their aggressiveness during the
performance of their duties.”
Blesse made a name for
himself while serving as the operations officer of the 334th
Fighter-Interceptor Squadron during the Korean War.
During his voluntary assignment at Kimpo Air Base, Korea,
the then major revolutionized the air-to-air combat tactics
of the squadron. At the conclusion of his tour, Blesse was
widely recognized as one of the Air Force's top aces, having
destroyed or irreparably damaged more than 15 enemy
aircraft. He went on to serve more than 30 years in the Air
Force, including a tour in Vietnam, before retiring as the
Air Force' deputy inspector general. He passed away in
The ceremony also featured a flyover
consisting of current and past aircraft assigned to the
wing. Two F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft flew over the
dedication ceremony, followed by two F-4 Phantoms II
aircraft, to honor Blesse, who flew the Phantom II during
his tour in Vietnam.
“The legacy of Gen. Blesse is
something for us to look up to and try to emulate in our
careers,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Judy, 334th FS pilot in
training, who is set to graduate from B-Course on June 27.
“Flying with the 334th and knowing what he's done for our
squadron's history, it gives me pride to know where we came
from and the leaders that were here before us.”
hopes that the memorial will serve as a motivator to those
who serve in the squadron in the future as well as a
reminder of how much Blesse has done for the Air Force.
“Gen. Blesse is precisely the type of warrior we seek to
emulate and produce in our students,” Yates added. “This
monument will serve as a lasting testament of Gen. Blesse's
life and service and will inspire Airmen for generations to
come. We will all remember his legacy of excellence.”
Betty also expressed her gratitude for her husband's
“I'm so humbled to be here,” Betty said.
“To think they would do all this to recognize my husband is
amazing. I know he would have loved it.”
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Aaron Jenne
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