James B. Morehead

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James Bruce Morehead
James B Morehead.jpg
Born(1916-08-16)August 16, 1916
Paoli, Oklahoma
DiedMarch 11, 2012(2012-03-11) (aged 95)
Petaluma, California
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1940–1967
Unit49th Pursuit Group
1st Fighter Group
49th Fighter-Bomber Wing
Commands held331st Fighter Squadron
488th Army Air Force Base Unit
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross (2)
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Air Medal (16)

James Bruce Morehead (August 16, 1916 – March 11, 2012) was an American fighter pilot and flying ace of World War II. He flew combat missions over a three-year span of the war with a total of eight aerial victories.[1][2] He was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and sixteen Air Medals [2]

Early life[edit]

Morehead was born on August 16, 1916, in Paoli, Oklahoma.[3]

Military career[edit]

World War II[edit]

He destroyed three enemy aircraft on February 25, 1942 and was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross for that mission. On April 25, 1942, he destroyed two more enemy aircraft, earning him the flying ace status.[4]

During this time he was credited with the destruction of 7 Japanese aircraft in aerial combat. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the Pacific Theater.[4]

He received a second Distinguished Service Cross and an additional Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the European Theater.[3]

His aerial victories during World War II consisted of 8 enemy planes destroyed in the air and 1 damaged. Of his kills, 7 were attained while flying P-40 and one was attained while flying P-38.

His book "In my sights" is a candid, honest, brave story of the few who survived the terrible aerial battles against the Zeros in the Southwest Pacific.

Aerial Victory credits[edit]

Date Location Credits[5] Comment
February 25, 1942 Darwin Australia[6] 3 Awarded DSC[6]
April 25, 1942 Pacific Theater of Operations[6] 2 Achieved Ace Status
August 23, 1942 Pacific Theater of Operations[6] 2
June 6, 1944 Romania[6] 1

Later life[edit]

In 1999 he was inducted into the American Combat Airman Hall of Fame.[7]

Morehead died on March 11, 2012. He is buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.[3]

Awards and Decorations[edit]

His awards and decorations include:

COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png  Command pilot badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with three silver oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Presidential Unit Citation with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze campaign stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with bronze campaign star
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver oak leaf cluster

AFRM with Hourglass Device.jpg  Armed Forces Reserve Medal with bronze hourglass device

USAF Marksmanship ribbon.svg  Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon

Philippine Defense ribbon.png  Philippine Defense Medal

PHL Independence Medal ribbon.png  Philippine Independence Medal

Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm (France) - ribbon bar.png  French Croix de Guerre with Palm

Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines).svg  Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation

Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg  Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

United Nations Service Medal Korea ribbon.svg  United Nations Korea Medal

Republic of Korea War Service Medal ribbon.svg  Korean War Service Medal


  1. ^ "Military Times Hall of Valor". Awards and Citations: Distinguished Service Cross. militarytimes.com. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b Carter, Lori (19 January 2011). "Petaluma honors WWII 'ace'". Petaluma, California: The Press Democrat. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Fox, Margalit. "James Morehead, World War II Flying Ace, Dies at 95".
  4. ^ a b "Veteran Tributes". www.veterantributes.org.
  5. ^ "Aerial Victory Credits". Air Force Historical Research Agency. pp. (search on Name "begins with" "Morehead"). Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e Shapiro, T. Rees (16 March 2012). "James B. Morehead, WWII ace known as 'Wildman". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ "American Combat Airman Hall of Fame" (PDF). www.airpowermuseum.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2011.