meco-official: Two U.S. Navy Grumman F9F-2 Pa…


Two U.S. Navy Grumman F9F-2 Panther jets from Fighter Squadron 51
(VF-51) “Screaming Eagles” during a sortie over Korea, in 1951-52.
VF-51 was assigned to Carrier Air Group 5 aboard the aircraft
carrier USS Essex (CV-9) for a deplyoment to Korea from 26 June 1951 to 25 March 1952.
The pilot of the lead plane (S-107) was Lt.JG George Russell, S-116 was flown by Ens. Neil Armstrong, who later went to land on the Moon on Apollo 11.

Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea between 1951 and 1952.  He saw first saw action on 29 August 1951 while flying escort for a reconnaissance mission.  Five days later, on 3 September, Armstrong flew an armed reconnaissance mission over the village of Majon-ni, near Wonsan.  While making a low bombing run, his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and while trying to regain control of the aircraft, he struck a pole, which cut off 3 feet of his right wing.

Amazingly, Armstrong was able to wrestle the plane back over friendly territory, but after losing an aileron he was forced to eject.  He was eventually picked up in a jeep driven by a flight school roommate, but the aircraft was never recovered.

During his years of service, Armstrong was award the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, two gold stars for the next 40, the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star.  He later went on to serve as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Navy Reserve, still as a pilot, before resigning his commission in 1960.