Colonel (Ret.) Ralph Parr began his career as part of the Army Air Forces in 1942. He is the only American pilot to receive both the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross. During World War II, he flew the P-38 Lightning in the Philippines, and he was an F-86 pilot during the Korean War. In May 1953, Parr achieved ace status with five kills in 11 days. He achieved double ace status in July 1953 when he made 10 kills in a seven-week period during the Korean War. On June 7, he was on a fighter sweep to intercept and destroy enemy planes over North Korea. He was looking north toward China when he saw four MiG fighters firing at them. After the initial confrontation, Parr realized there were more MiGs than he’d thought. “As I closed rapidly to about 4,000 feet, I noticed there weren’t two, there were four. No, there were eight. Then, off to my left, I saw eight more. Immediately, I decided to put a big notch in the MiG leader.” He downed another MiG and damaged one other, adding another kill three days later. On June 18, he notched two more victories while protecting fighter bombers striking targets in North Korea, making double ace status with his 10th kill July 27. During his career, Parr flew 641 combat missions with more than 6,000 hours and earned more than 60 decorations, including a Silver Star, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 41 Air Medals. Colonel Parr retired in 1976.
Photography by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.