Korean War Exhibit - NNAM

The Exhibit:
The museum’s exhibit, which will soon undergo a redesign, features artifacts reflecting Naval Aviation’s involvement in the Korean War, which began when North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea on June 25, 1950. Eight days later USS Valley Forge (CV 37) launched the Navy’s first carrier strikes of the war.

Sea Change:
The Korean War represented a transformational time in the evolution of  Naval Aviation. It marked the first combat use of jet aircraft, including jet vs. jet air-to-air engagements against Soviet-built MiG-15 fighters. Navy and Marine helicopters also received their baptism of fire while evacuating casualties, transporting troops to distant battlefields and performing combat search and rescue missions.

A Story Well Told:
The Korean War served as the backdrop for author James Michener’s classic novel The Bridges at Toko-Ri, which evolved from an article he wrote based on visits to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers operating off Korea. His main character, LT Harry Brubaker, spoke to a defining element of the Korean War, the calling up of Reserves to active duty to meet the demands of combat.

Foundation for the Stars:
A number of future astronauts who engaged in the space race with the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s received their baptism of fire in the Cold War battleground that was Korea. Neil Armstrong, later the first man to walk on the moon, flew combat missions in the F9F Panther while assigned to the VF-51 Screaming Eagles on board USS Essex (CV 9). Wally Schirra and John Glenn, two of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, were exchange pilots in U.S. Air Force squadrons, with the former shooting down one enemy aircraft and the latter credited with three kills. 

Firsts:                                                      Marine Major John F. Bolt became an ace in Korea by shooting down six enemy aircraft while flying F-86 Sabres as an exchange pilot with the U.S. Air Force. Couple with his kills flying F4U Corsairs with the famous VMF-214 Black Sheep in World War II, he became Naval Aviation’s only two-war ace. For a daring rescue attempt of a downed Marine pilot and his heroic perseverance as a prisoner of war, LTJG John Koelsch received the Medal of Honor posthumously, the first helicopter pilot recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor.  

LTJG Al Bedford Flight Helmet

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LTJG Al Bedford wore this flight helmet while flying F9F Panthers, including the aircraft of that type now on display in the museum, with VF-151 off USS Boxer (CVA 21) during the final months of the Korean War.