Bully Able Leader: The Story of a Fighter-Bomber Pilot in the Korean War

By Mortensen, Dan | Air & Space Power Journal, March/April 2013 | Go to article overview

Bully Able Leader: The Story of a Fighter-Bomber Pilot in the Korean War


Mortensen, Dan, Air & Space Power Journal


Bully Able Leader: The Story of a Fighter-Bomber Pilot in the Korean War by Lt Gen George G. Loving, USAF, Retired. Stackpole Books (http://www.stackpolebooks.com/), 5067 Ritter Road, Me- chanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055, 2011, 256 pages, $24.95 (hard- cover), ISBN 9780811710268.

I've read and reviewed many accounts of the operational experi- ences of pilots and units dedicated to the task of supporting ground op- erations. Most of these stories were set in World War II, but, surpris- ingly, every author had unique experiences- a fact that indicates the rich tapestry and vastness of the war. Such was the case with George Loving, who wrote about his time in Italy in Woodbine Red Leader (Pre- sidio Press, 2003). He began flying ground-support missions there but eventually transferred to P-51 s, spending the rest the war as an escort pilot. Loving flew 1 51 combat missions and became an ace by shooting down at least five enemy planes. His second venture into combat oc- curred during the Korean conflict.

Soon after the end of the war in Europe, the Army Air Forces sent him to Japan; his new bride followed him when housing facilities be- came available. Like any sensitive autobiographer, Loving offers ac- counts of his life in the Far East, giving readers an idea ofthat area's culture and the changing attitudes toward the Japanese and, later, the Russians (the latter quite active in China and the northern reaches of Korea). He also describes his working conditions- those typical of a young officer involved in the grind of necessary support jobs, such as those dealing with personnel issues. In a couple of months, after mov- ing back to the States, Loving was called back to the Far East and Ko- rea- this time almost completely in air ground-support operations, (To my knowledge, Bully Able Leader is the first autobiography that includes fighter-bomber exploits. Consequently, nearly everything in it differs from the World War II narratives familiar to me.)

Loving clearly describes the air-support operations that involved F-51s flying against the North Korean army as it pressed close to the Pusan Perimeter in the lower west coast of Korea. Remaining at his base in Taegu, known as "K-2" by Far East Air Forces, he found himself running a small cadre. Because enemy troops were closing in, the base essentially had been abandoned, retaining only enough personnel to fuel and arm aircraft still flying support against advancing enemy troops- and to respond to emergencies.

The author survived that scare, and circumstances improved after Gen Douglas MacArthur orchestrated the daring amphibious raid at Inchon that promised to cut North Korean forces in half. With the enemy on the run, air leaders began rapid construction of bases as close to the front as possible so that the allied armies could receive air support quickly. Loving describes the military situation and rapid influx of fighter and medium bomber wings to the new bases, demonstrating a good eye for detail about fighting a war in Korea. …

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