The location of this photo is Taoyuan Air Base, Taiwan, where the 337th was deployed in response to the Quemoy Crisis in late 1958. Such deployments were unusual for an Air Defense Command unit but the F-104 Starfighters of the 337th were ready.
Arriving in October of ’58, the 337th relieved the 83rd FIS who departed sans F-104s so the 337th would have something to fly – The 83rd had disassembled their Starfighters in order to have them airlifted to Taiwan and the Air Force saw no sense in requiring the 337th to do the same thing to theirs. The 337th was at Taoyuan less than two months before they were ordered back to their home of Westover AFB, Mass. (It was now their turn to disassemble some Starfighters.)
Several noteworthy aspects to this photo: Sitting at center on his “throne”, and holding a big cigar (the smoking of which he was quite fond of), is squadron commander Major James Jabara, Korean War ace extraordinaire.
It is also of note that in this photo there are about half a dozen patches worn that are from squadrons other than the 337th. The 49th FIS, 56th, 331st, etc.; most likely new guys who did not get their 337th patches sewn on before the deployment.
PS. I wonder whose job it was to organize the water buffalos seen on each end of the picture?
Seen here with the bird that bears his name, Commander Bill Hodges, CO of VP-11, poses while on a deployment to Malta in the mid-1950s.
Note: Hodges had a long career that included surviving the sinking of his ship, USS West Virginia, at Pearl Harbor (a good swimmer, Hodges took a few deep breaths and dove down into the wreck to retrieve his wallet).
April Fools’ Day in France is the day of “Poisson d’Avril” – April Fish. Jokes revolve around the sea critter – especially that of attaching a paper fish to the back of an unsuspecting individual who goes about his day never suspecting he has a paper trout dangling on the back of his jacket.
What does that have to do with aircraft? Not a thing. However, with aeroplanes being the newest thing back in 1909 (when this card was posted) it is not surprising the old tradition of “Poisson d’Avril” was given a new twist. Note: when visiting France on April 1st, always check your back.
Two aircraft that one does not often see in the same photo would be the VC-137 and the Commonwealth Skyranger. Taken at the Renton Airport/Boeing plant in the summer of 1962, VC-137, “SAM 2600”, is undergoing finishing touches before it is delivered to the Air Force for the use of President Kennedy. This photo illustrates the classic adage of “I seen ’em come, I seen ’em go” by virtue of the fact that while SAM 2600 is now retired to the Air Force Museum, the Skyranger (N90682, built in 1946) is still registered and flying today. Really, about the only thing that shows this photo was not taken in recent times are the vintage automobiles.
…having a fighter plane to call your own. Major General William Kepner was no exception; as boss of the 8th Fighter Command, he got around in style in his P-47 (42-26637) nicknamed “Kokomo”. Here we see it wears the name of an additional city, “Buffalo”. Or, perhaps, it is referring to the animal of the same name. Before the war, Kepner was more associated with balloons & such rather than fighter aircraft. He held six ratings, most rather quaint: command pilot, combat observer, senior balloon pilot, zeppelin pilot, semirigid pilot, and metal-clad airship pilot.
The color photo is courtesy of Bob Livingstone from the sunburnt country, the Land Down Under.