Died October 31,2012
Major General Frederick C. Blesse is the deputy inspector general of the U.S. Air Force. The inspector general provides the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff an evaluation, through inspections, of the effectiveness of U.S. Air Force units, and monitors worldwide safety policies and programs in the interest of accident prevention. He also directs the U.S. Air Force counterintelligence program and is responsible for security policy and criminal investigation within the Air Force.
General Blesse was born in Colon, Panama Canal Zone in 1921. His father was a brigadier general in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, retiring in 1953. General Blesse graduated from American High School, Manila, the Philippine Islands in April 1939. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., in June 1945 with a commission as second lieutenant, and a rating as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
For the next three years General Blesse was stationed in the United States and then on Okinawa and flew P-40, P-51, P-47 and F-80 aircraft. In March 1949 he went to Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich., as a jet fighter pilot. During the Korean War, he flew two volunteer combat tours, November 1950-May 1951 and April 1952-October 1952, completing 67 missions in F-51 aircraft, 35 missions in F-80 aircraft, and 121 missions in F-86 aircraft. During his second combat tour, he was officially credited with destroying nine Mig-15s and one LA-9 aircraft; probably destroying one additional Mig-15 and damaging three other Mig-15s. He was the U.S. Air Force leading jet ace when he returned to the United States in October 1952.
In December 1952 General Blesse went to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where he served as a jet fighter gunnery instructor, squadron operations officer and squadron commander. He was a member of the Air Training Command Fighter Gunnery Team in 1954 and 1955. Both years this team won the Air Force Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Championship. During the 1955 gunnery meet, General Blesse, flying an F-86F aircraft, won all six trophies offered for individual performance, a feat that has never been equaled.
During this tour of duty, General Blesse wrote his fighter tactics book, "No Guts, No Glory." This book has been used as a basis of fighter combat operations for the Royal Air Force, Marines, Chinese Nationalist, Korean Air Force, and U.S. Air Force since 1955. As recently as 1973, 3,000 copies were reproduced and sent to tactical units in the field.
In February 1956 he was transferred to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as chief of the Fighter Division of Crew Training Air Force. General Blesse was assigned to the 32d Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Soesterberg Air Base, Holland, in July 1958, and served as base and squadron commander of the F-100, F-102 organization. He returned to the United States in August 1961 as a member of the Air Staff with the inspector general, Norton Air Force Base, Calif.
In 1965 he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C. During this assignment he attended night school and earned a master's degree in international relations at The George Washington University.
General Blesse again volunteered for combat duty and in April 1967 was assigned as director of operations for the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. During this one-year tour of duty, he flew 108 combat missions over North Vietnam and another 46 in Laos and South Vietnam. He was decorated for valor for helping unload the bombs from a burning F-4 aircraft during a rocket attack.
In May 1968 he again was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, this time as director of operations of the U.S. Air Force's first F-111 wing, the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing, and in June 1969 became commander. In July 1970 General Blesse became commander of the 831st Air Division at George Air Force Base, Calif., and then was selected for another tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam as assistant director of operations for Seventh Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Airfield.
In September 1971 he was assigned as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and in March 1972 became deputy chief of staff for operations. In November 1973 he was assigned as senior Air Force member, Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
General Blesse was appointed deputy inspector general of the U.S. Air Force in August 1974.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross*; Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; Silver Star with oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters; Bronze Star Medal with "V" device; Air Medal with 20 oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster; Army Commendation Medal; Purple Heart; and from the Republic of Vietnam the Cross of Gallantry; Honor Medal, 3d Class; and the Honor Medal, 5th Class. He is a command pilot with more than 6,500 flying hours, most of which have been in fighter aircraft including the P-40, P-47, P-51, F-80, F-86, F-100, F-102, A-7, F-104, F-106, F-4, and F-111. He has more than 650 hours combat flying and is the nation's sixth ranking jet ace.
He was promoted to the grade of major general effective Dec. 1, 1972, with date of rank Aug. 1, 1969.
(Current as of Dec. 15, 1974)
* On Dec. 3, 1998, the general was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations as a pilot, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, Fifth Air Force, on Sept. 8, 1952.
"Leading a flight of four F-86s protecting fighter bombers from possible attack by enemy MIGs, Major Blesse positioned his flight for an attack on four sighted MIGs. Singling out one of the MIGs, Major Blesse followed it up into an overcast and broke out between layers of clouds. As the two aircraft emerged from the clouds, Major Blesse was still in position, so he closed and fired, causing the MIG to burst into flames and the pilot to eject himself. Major Blesse then sighted a lone MIG and positioned himself for another attack. The MIG began violent, evasive maneuvers, but through superior airmanship Major Blesse scored hits, causing the MIG to snap and spin. Major Blesse followed closely until the MIG recovered. He then scored hits with another long burst which caused the pilot to eject himself. Through his courage, keen flying ability and devotion to duty, Major Blesse reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces and the United States Air Force."