|Born||July 1, 1924|
|Died||December 7, 2012 (aged 88)|
New Braunfels, Texas
|Service/||United States Army Air Forces|
United States Air Force
|Years of service||1942–1976|
|Unit||49th Fighter Bomber Wing|
335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
|Commands held||4456th Combat Crew Training Squadron|
4455th Combat Crew Training Squadron
12th Tactical Fighter Wing
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Air Force Cross|
Distinguished Service Cross
Legion of Merit (3)
Distinguished Flying Cross (10)
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (41)
Ralph Sherman Parr, Jr. (July 1, 1924 – December 7, 2012) was an American double-flying ace of the Korean War. He was credited with a total of ten downed enemy aircraft. He also flew in World War II and the Vietnam War, and is the only person to have been awarded the United States Army Distinguished Service Cross and the corresponding decoration used by the United States Air Force once it became an independent branch of service, the Air Force Cross.
Parr was born in 1924, in Portsmouth, Virginia. His parents were Ralph Sherman Parr and May (Morrison) Parr.
His father was a US Navy commander who served in both World War I and World War II. One of his brothers was Warren Sherman Parr, a US Navy rear admiral. During the Korean War, he flew 165 combat missions and helped to develop new combat tactics for fighting MiG-15s.
As an F-86 pilot with the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing from May to September 1953, managing to shoot down a total of ten enemy aircraft, all while flying F-86 Sabres, during the last 7 weeks of the war. On July 27, 1953, the day of the armistice, then Captain Parr scored the last aerial 'kill' of the Korean War by shooting down an unarmed Soviet Navy Ilyushin Il-12 transport aircraft. All 21 passengers, including 3 medical staff, were killed.
The Soviet Union filed a lawsuit against Parr in the International Court of Justice, although they later withdrew the suit, and shot down an RB-50 Superfortres over international waters two days later. None of the bomber’s crew ever returned, although most were presumed captured.
He was married to Margaret Parr for forty years. They have six stepchildren and 10 grandchildren. He died on December 7, 2012, at an assisted living facility in New Braunfels, Texas. He was 88. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Awards and decorations
Col. Parr is the only person ever awarded both the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross.
His personal awards are:
Air Force Cross citation
- Parr, Ralph Sherman
- Colonel, U.S. Air Force
- 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam
- Date of Action: March 16, 1968
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Colonel Ralph Sherman Par, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing force as an F-4C Phantom Aircraft Commander and Commanding Officer of the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam, in action near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam, on 16 March 1968. On that date, Colonel Parr participated in a flight providing cover for cargo aircraft. Upon arrival over the target, the forward air controller advised the flight that the airfield was under heavy attack by hostile mortar positions, which were located a few feet below a ridge line. Although the target area was covered with dense smoke and haze, Colonel Parr successfully destroyed one mortar position on his first pass, as six well-camouflaged heavy automatic weapons opened fire on him. Although sustaining severe damage to his aircraft, he pressed his second attack and destroyed another mortar position. Again, completely disregarding his personal safety and the withering hostile gun fire, Colonel Parr succeeded in destroying six heavy caliber automatic weapons positions. In between passes, his accurate and timely directions to his wingman effectively insured the accuracy of ordnance delivery in close proximity to the friendly forces. Only after delivering all of his ordnance at point-blank range in eight consecutive passes did Colonel Parr terminate his attack. By destroying these strategically located weapons, he not only impaired the hostile force's capability to impede the resupply of Khe Sanh, but also reduced further losses to friendly cargo aircraft and crews. Through his superb airmanship, aggressiveness, and extraordinary heroism, Colonel Parr reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Distinguished Service Cross citation
- Parr, Ralph Sherman
- Captain, U.S. Air Force
- 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, 5th Air Force
- Date of Action: June 30, 1953
The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Air Force) to Captain Ralph Sherman Parr, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Pilot of an F-86 type aircraft of the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, Fifth Air Force, in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Korea on 30 June 1953. On that date, while leading a formation of two F-86 type aircraft on a combat air patrol deep in enemy territory, Captain Parr was attacked by a formation of ten enemy MIGs. Exhibiting superb airmanship and extraordinary gallantry, Captain Parr positioned himself on the attackers. Despite the imminent threat from the hail of cannon fire from behind, Captain Parr selected his target, and with a long burst from his guns, destroyed one of the enemy MIGs. Against superior numbers of enemy aircraft, Captain Parr, although under a continual hail of enemy cannon fire, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, again valiantly counter-attacked another of the threatening aircraft. Utilizing extraordinary flying skill, Captain Parr tenaciously followed the enemy through a series of violent, evasive maneuvers until he gained the advantage and scored multiple hits on the MiG, causing it to burst into flame. While turning to move to surprise another of the enemy aircraft, Captain Parr broke off his attack to answer a call of distress from a friendly aircraft. Although dangerously low on fuel, Captain Parr, at great risk to his life, provided aggressive and determined protection for the distressed friendly aircraft, escorting it safely back to base. Captain Parr's keen flying skill in turning the tide of battle despite overwhelming odds and his high personal courage in protecting a fellow pilot evidenced conspicuous gallantry in action, and reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces and the United States Air Force.
- "Influential double ace fighter pilot dies at 88". mysanantonio.com. 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
- "Col. Ralph Parr". Official Website of the US Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
- this was on image of his ribbon rack, but Wikipedia entry for the award states must have both Philippine Defense and Liberation Medal, Col Parr did not receive the Defense Medal
- Valor Awards for Ralph Sherman Parr at militarytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ralph Parr.|