Korean War Double Ace Ralph S. Parr Dies

Retired Col. Ralph S. Parr, one of the top aces of the Korean War and the only American aviator to receive both the Distinguished Service Cross and Air Force Cross, died on Dec. 7 in New Braunfels, Tex., northeast of San Antonio, at age 88, reported the San Antonio Express-News. He died in an assisted living facility; he had undergone recent cancer treatment, according to the newspaper. Born in Portsmouth, Va., on July 1, 1924, Parr was commissioned in the Army Air Forces in February 1944 and flew the P-38 in the Pacific theater during the last year of World War II, states his Air Force biography. He flew the F-80 and F-86 during the Korean War, scoring 10 confirmed kills and receiving the DSC for a mission on June 30, 1953, during which he escorted his commander to safety after an intensive dogfight with enemy MiGs. He received the Air Force Cross during the Vietnam War for a mission on March 16, 1968, during the Battle of Khe Sanh for his extraordinary valor in his F-4C in blunting a North Vietnamese ground assault on besieged US forces. In all, Parr flew 641 combat missions in three wars and received more than 60 citations. In October, Parr’s longtime friend retired Maj. Gen. Frederick “Boots” Blesse, another top Korean War ace, died. (For more on Parr’s distinguished military career, read Valor: The Pinnacle of Professionalism from Air Force Magazine’s archives.) (See also Parr’s biography posted at the Air University website.)