1/Lt James Thompson

U.S. Air Force pilot James Thompson, left, visits with his crew chief prior to a combat mission during the Korean War. The crew chief, known only by the last name of Johnson, is from Okarche. In the lower right of the photo, the words “Home” and “Okarche, Okla” can be seen. (Photo provided) © 2017 Okarche Warrior

News Article Link - October 9, 2017

By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – More than 60 years after the Korean War ended, a U.S. Air Force pilot is searching for his crew chief who is from Okarche.

James Thompson served with fellow crew member whose last name is Johnson in the 336th Squadron at K-14 in South Korea in 1953. He wrote a letter to the Okarche Warrior and sent a photo of himself with Johnson. The fuel tank on the F-86 shows a Tee Pee, captioned “home” with the location Okarche, OKLA.

“I think he was a sergeant. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his first name, but I’ll never forget how well he, as crew chief, took care of the F-86 I flew in combat,” Thompson wrote.
Thompson said Johnson was responsible for maintaining the plane and he was the pilot.

“He did a marvelous job,” Thompson said during a phone call to the Warrior. “He made sure it was airworthy and ready to go. He was my righthand man.”
The two were stationed in Seoul, South Korea where they flew patrol along a 200-mile route north to the Manchurian border. Thompson flew 71 missions.

“We were a fighter intercept group,” he said. “Our task was to maintain air superiority over North and South Korea.”

During combat the fuel tanks would be dropped along with a bomb. North Koreans used to salvage them and “beat usable parts into pots and pans,” he wrote in the letter.
U.S. airmen painted messages on the fuel tanks that would be dropped to indicate where the metal had come from.

Now 89, Thompson said he cannot be sure Johnson is alive.

“I would give anything in the world if he were still living and I could make contact with him, and tell him thank you for what you did,” he said. “Someone from there made a marvelous contribution. I wish I had contacted him 20 or 30 years ago.”

Thompson lives in Florence, Alabama where he is a pastor at First Presbyterian Church. Anyone with information can contact James Thompson as 256-757-1165. His mailing address is 1428 North Shore Drive, Florence, Alabama, 35634.

(4th Fighter Interceptor Wing yearbook - 1953)