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Pacific Stars & Stripes, Jan. 10, 1969


PSS-654.1 (S & S Photos-caption)


The original nucleus of the Republic of Korea Air Force fighter arm was formed in 1950 with the help of Col. Dean E. Hess, author of "Battle Hymn" and now Chief of Information, Fifth Air Force.  Hess (third from left), returned to the ROK this week where he was honored with ceremonies and receptions by Korean Officers at his old wartime fighter base.


ROK Air Units Fly Over In Salute to Col. Hess


TAEGU, Korea-  Col. Dean E. Hess Wednesday revisited familiar places and renewed friendships in Taegu and Taejon, where, in 1950, he organized the Republic of Korea's first aerial combat unit during the Korean war. 

Hess, the author of "Battle Hymn" and presently Chief of Information, Fifth U.S. Air Force, has been honored here with three days of ceremonies and receptions given by Det. 5 of the 6136th Air Force Advisory Group. 

ROK air units, which Hess helped to build from a nucleus of just 22 light planes in 1950, thundered through the skies over Taegu, dipping their wings in salute to Hess. 

"One of my objectives," said Hess, "Is to let the world know what a magnificent air force this country has, and to give them the credit they deserve in developing it out of sheer courage and perseverance." 

Tuesday night, Brig. Gen. Doo Sun Pak, commander of Air Material Depot, Taegu, presented Hess with a desk model of an F-96 fighter, now the mainline of ROKAF defense.  The presentation was made at a reception given by Det. 5.  Hess was introduced by Lt. Col. William J. Horvat, senior material advisor, Det. 5. 

Another reunion came about when Hess received a surprise visit from a former houseboy, Su Pong Chong, who served Hess and other members of the original AFAG during the Korean War. 

As Hess's outfit moved, Chong moved with them, first by LST from K-10 to Inchon, which took them 2 1/2 seasick days.

The pair recalled how they helped about a thousand Koreans at Yongdongpo to clear an airstrip from which to fly the F?-51's. 

Chong remembered how Hess would dart in for a cup of coffee to get warm before taking off for the next mission-"Usually around 4:30 in the morning."  Chong would have already started the stove and spent a few moments talking to Hess before the mission. 

American Forces Korea Network station Kilroy interviewed Hess Wednesday on his book, "Battle Hymn."  Hess said he was disappointed that none of the money, some $19 million, made by the studios on the movie "Battle Hymn" was used to assist war orphans in Korea. 

Hess flew to Taejon Wednesday morning.  After the war he adopted a little orphan girl there.  He also organized the Air Force Advisory Group at Taejon to help build a Korean Air Force.



PSS-654.2 (S & S Photos-caption)


Col. Dean E. Hess, who is being honored in the Republic of Korea as a combat hero and one of the "Founding Fathers" of the modern ROK Air Force, speaks to a crowd at ceremonies dedicating a plaque in his honor at K-2 Air Base in Taegu.

By S,Sgt. Warren Kelsay

S & S Korea Bureau






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