USAF Ace James Risner: 8 Mig kills, POW, 3 Wars

Real American Hero: Used his F-86 jet as an air to air tow truck

Brig. General James Risner could be the quintessential American fighter pilot of the century. After flying P-40s, P-39 Airacobras, and P-38 Lightnings during WW2, he enlisted in the Oklahoma Air National Guard (in between wars) and flew P-51 Mustangs. On one flight in Texas he was swept into Mexico by a hurricane and forced to land on a dry lakebed where he was accosted by bandits. Escaping, he took off and flew his P-51 back to the U.S., creating a minor international incident (he was reprimanded by the U.S. state department). Active in WW2, Korea and Vietnam, the list of fighters he flew in those wars is extensive. In Korea he is known for actually PUSHING a fellow F-86 Sabre pilot’s plane with the nose of HIS own Sabre when its engine quit over enemy territory. He managed to push his friend’s jet to the coast where he ejected over the ocean where a recovery crew was waiting. Sadly he drowned in the attempt as he became tangled in his parachute lines. Risner managed to land his jet after the engine quit from ingesting fuel and debris from the jet he was pushing. While in Korea he shot down 8 Mig-15s and then went on to Vietnam to pilot the F-105 Thunderchief, where he was shot down twice more on bombing runs. Captured by the North Vietnamese, Risner was put in the Hanoi Hilton prison and tortured for seven years. While in the prison, he became the spiritual leader of his fellow prisoners (his background being in the Assemblies of God church) and devised the “tap code” communication to maintain prisoner morale and optimism. He spent three years in solitary confinement due to his resistance to the North Vietnam government, out of his seven and a half years there. After the war he was assigned to combat ready flight of the F-4 Phantom II. He later was moved to the F-111 Aardvark and retired from the Air Force in 1976 as a Brigadier General. The list of medals given to Risner is extensive: 2 Air Force Crosses, Air Force Distinguished Medal, 2 Silver Stars, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Bronze Stars, 4 Purple Hearts, 8 Air Medals. He died in his sleep in 2014 age 88.

General Risner may be gone but his Valor will remain forever. Valor is in you. Set it free.

(There is so much to this man I encourage extra reading or youtube videos on his exploits)

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