Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Col. Ken Reusser a 3-War Vet 1920-2009

Colonel Kenneth L. Reusser, the most decorated US Marine Corps aviator in history and the only aviator to survive being shot down in all three wars of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, has died of natural causes at age 89.

Reusser flew 253 combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was shot down five times in all. He earned 59 medals including two Navy Crosses, four Purple Hearts and two Legions of Merit, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and nineteen Air Medals.

In 1945, while based in Okinawa, then Captain Reusser stripped down his F4U-4 Corsair fighter and intercepted a Japanese observation plane at a high altitude. When his guns froze, he flew his Corsair into the observation plane, hacking off its tail with his propeller.

In 1950 in Korea, then Major Reusser led an attack on a North Korean tank-repair facility at Inchon. In the face of fierce ground fire, he destroyed an oil storage facility. With his bombs and rockets expended, Maj. Reusser next attacked a camouflaged oil tanker at anchor in the harbor, raking it with his Corsair's 20 mm gunfire until the ship exploded, almost blowing him out of the air.

In Vietnam he served as commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 16, flying helicopters. He was leading a rescue mission when his Huey was shot down. He needed skin grafts over 35 percent of his burned body.

After retiring from the Marine Corps, he worked for Lockheed Aircraft and the Piasecki Helicopter Corp. He remained active in veterans groups. Col. Reusser died June 20 of natural causes in Oregon. He is survived by his wife, Trudy, and sons.

Sources: Stars & Stripes / Marine Corps Times

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

can he really have been that good, considering he was shot down 3 times.....

Colonel Creedon said...

Son you obviously have no understanding on the dangers or the survival ratio of ariel flight during the wars in question.

But look at it mathematically: The man flies off to battle in a plane 253 times. He brings his plane back 248 times and brings himself back every time. On 23 of his fights, he accomplished his mission so heroically and against the percieved odds so much so that that he was awarded medals.

That means he was one of the best, yes.