Back to war
By 1950, the war between North Korea and South Korea broken out. The United Nations responded in sending a largely US backed task force to aid South Korea. In response to the extra demands placed on Naval Aviation, the US Navy's display team, the Blue Angels were drafted into action. VF 191 was reforming and transissioning to the Grumman F9F-2B Panther and the "Blue Angels" formed the core fo the reformed squadron. They inlcuded: Lieutenant Commander John J. Magda, Lieutenants Hawkins, Jake Robke and Lieutenants (jg) Fritz Roth and George Hoskins. Lieutenant Ralph Hanks and Lieutenant (jg) F. J. Murphy, hold-overs from the previous team also joined them in the squadron. The team also included Lieutenant Commander R. L. ‘Zeke’ Cormier as the PIO, while Lieutenant (jg) R. D. Belt, was the engineering officer in charge of the 24 select maintenance men now necessary for upkeep of the jets. Towards the end of 1950, VF 191 reported to the aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CV 37) and sailed to the front line.
Task force 77
As soon as Princeton arrived (5 Dec?), Air Group 19 went into action, flying 248 sorties against targets in the Hagaru area. For the next six days, Air Group 19 gave support to the Marines fighting their way to Hungnam. By the 11th, all units had reached the staging area on the coast. Princeton'S planes, with other Navy, Marine, and Air Force squadrons, then covered the evacuation from Hungnam through its completion on 24 December 1950.
1951 saw the Navy use jet fighters in a bombing role, when two F9F-2B Cougars of VF 191, attacked a railroad bridge near Songjin. They were each loaded with four 250- and two 100-pound general purpose bombs.
8 March 1951, Lieutenant Commander John Madga lead the attack on North Korean and Chinese installations at Tanchon. Chinese troops at one the end of the bridge began firing. The attacking aircraft pulled up to the right and made a circle for the second pass, when a huge tail of flame erupted from Madga's plane. His wingman, Ensign Richard Bradbury radiod to him that he had been hit. Magda gallantly continued to carry out the attack, destroying gun emplacements and inflicting severe damage on nearby rail installations. It was not until all his ammunition was expended, that Magda turned the feircely buring aircraft seaward in an attempt to avert capture and the possible compromise of his aircraft. The damage to his aircraft was too great and his plane crashed in to the sea, killing him. He was 33. Lieutenant Commander John J. Madga jr. was postmously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism.
Interdiction missions followed and by 4 April 1951, Princeton's planes had rendered 54 rail and 37 highway bridges inoperable and damaged 44 more. In May, they flew against the railroad bridges connecting Pyongyang with Sunchon, Sinanju, Kachon, and the trans-peninsula line. Next, they combined close air support with raids on power sources in the Hwachon Reservoir area and, with the stabilization of the front there, resumed interdiction. For much of the summer they pounded supply arteries, concentrating on highways, and in August Princeton got underway for the United States, arriving at San Diego on 21 August 1951.
During this time, ten F9Fs failed to return to a friendly base. After the loss of Lieutenant Commander John J. Magda, Ensign Gerald J. Sullivan was killed when his F9F exploded in mid-air after being hit by AA fire at Koto-ri on 6 May 1951. Lieutenant (jg) Kenneth A. Wade, of VF 191 had a lucky escape and was unhurt when he had to crash-land his F9F at P'ohang after running out of fuel. He had been sent to P'ohang because the tail hook of his F9F would not lower for carrier landing.
VF-191 Meets a Schedule
16-Plane Launch Held with Ingenuity
VF-191, Princeton -- This squadron, commanded by Cdr. John Sweeny, boasts a red-hot maintenance department. But when Task Force schedule called for 16 Panther jets to be launched, Ens. Jerry Lacy, engineering officer, shook his
EJECTION SEAT ON WHEELS READY FOR LAUNCH
Only 15 jets were flyable, owing to a deck crash. The impossible called for an ingenious solution. The accompanying photo shows how VF-191 met the problem. Lt. Jack Waits volunteered to be launched in the ejection seat salvaged from the deck crashed-crashed F9F. Lt. Grady Miller, catapult officer of the Princeton, sent him off seconds after the picture was taken, according to the tongue-in-cheek news report from the squadron.
Navy Aviation News, December 1952
Once again aboard Princeton, CVG 19 rejoined TF 77 on 30 April 1952. For 138 days, their planes flew against the enemy. They sank small craft to prevent the recapture of offshore islands; blasted concentrations of supplies, facilities, and equipment behind enemy lines, participated in air-gun strikes on coastal cities, pounded the enemy's hydroelectric complex at Suiho on the Yalu to turn off power on both sides of that river, destroyed gun positions and supply areas in Pyongyan; and closed mineral processing plants and munitions factories at Sindok, Musan, Aoji, and Najin.
On 14 June 1952, the F9F-2 of Lieutenant (jg) R. Cross, was hit by enemy ground fire while on a rail interdiction mission. He was killed when his plane dived into the ground and exploded on impact. A few days later, 20 June, a F9F-2 of VF 191 piloted by Commander J. Sweeny was ditched on take-off due to malfunction of the electrical trim-tab control. He was recovered uninjured by the ship's helicopter.
23 June saw a combined action with the FIFTH AIR FORCE. A series of attacks were made upon the major hydroelectric plants in North Korea. Twelve F9F-2's from VF 191, led by Commander Sweeny took part in an attack upon the Suiho hydroelectric plant on the Yalu River. The attack was made in cooperation with twelve AD-4's from VA 195, and AD's and F9F-2's from USS Boxer (CV 21) and USS Philippine Sea (CV 47). These were followed by attacks made by Air Force aircraft. The target was reported as destroyed.
Princeton's Action Report for 27 July 1952, reports that Ensign F.D. Swisher, VF 191 was killed when his F9F-2 crashed in the sea after a mid-air collision while on a CAP flight.
The high number of missions flown contributed to the squadron achieving another distinction. While all carriers had a Centurian Club of pilots who have made 100 or more arrested landings, VF 191 joined the ranks of the few squadrons that can all that all their pilots had met the requirements on a single carrier. They received the following certificate:
"Know all ye landing officers, catapult officers, flight deck officers, arm chair admirals, and members of vulture's row: Who are attached, have been attached, or anticipate being attached to the U.S.S. Princeton that (name) having been low and slow, high and fast, wrapped up, overshot, eased gun, climbing at the ramp, settling in the groove, lined up both left and right, held off, dived for the deck, etc., and having avoided the potato locker, foot locker, lucky bag, and Davy Jones' Locker during 100 arrested landings aboard U.S.S. Princeton, will be henceforth privileged to accept no advice, instruction, critism, lip, guff, or comment in any form from any of the aboved mentioned people, and in particular, the arm chair admirals and the members of vulture's row . . ."
CVG 19 returned home to the US in November 1952. Of the four
For their service in Korea, the squadron received the Korean Service Medal for the following engagements:
- K2 - Communist China Aggression: 03 Nov 50 to 24 Jan 51
- K4 - First UN Counter Offensive: 25 Jan to 21 Apr 51
- K5 - Communist China Spring Offensive: 22 Apr to 08 Jul 51
- K7 - Second Korean Winter: 28 Nov 51 to 30 Apr 52
- K8 - Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952: 01 May to 30 Nov 52
|Lieutenant Commander John J. Magda||08 Mar 1951||F9F-2B #123621||USS Princeton||Tanchon|
|Ensign Gerald J. Sullivan||06 May 1951||F9F-2B #123601||USS Princeton||Songjin|
|Ensign Lowell R. Brewer||07 May 1951||F9F-2B #123633||USS Princeton||Inchon|
|Lieutenant (jg) R. Cross||20 Jun 1952||F9F-2B #? (109B)||USS Princeton||-|
|Ensign F.D. Swisher||27 Jul 1952||F9F-2B #120827||USS Princeton||Lost at sea|
|Nov 1950||May 1951||USS Princeton (CV 37)||Grumman F9F-2B Panther||B1||Korea|
|Mar 1952||Nov 1952||USS Princeton (CV 37)||Grumman F9F-2B Panther||B||Korea|