F2H-1 Banshee Pilot Lt. Dean S. Laird of VF-171, National Air Races, 3rd Sept 1949


2 responses

  1. Dean “Diz” S. Laird, CDR, USN (Ret.)

    Date of Designation: 21 October 1942
    Dates of Active Duty: 2 January 1942 – 30 June 1971
    Total Flight Hours: 8,285
    Carrier/Ship Landings: Fixed wing: 520
    Approximate Flight Hours:
    Jet: 3,662 Prop: 4,623 VF/VA: 5,225
    VR/VP: 1,240 VT: 590 Other (Civilian): 1,230

    Combat Tours:
    WW II: VF-4, USS Ranger, Jul. 1943 – Nov. 1943 (F4F) European theater of operations.
    WW II: VF-4, USS Bunker Hill/USS Essex, Oct. 1944- Mar. 1945 (F6F-3/5). Pacific theater of operations.

    Aviation Commands:
    CO, VF-213, March 1960 – November 1960

    Combat Awards:
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    5 Air Medals

    Duty Assignment Chronology
    1/42-10/42 Flight training, student (N3N, SNV. OS2U, SNJ. F2F).
    11/42-4/45 VF-4, Pilot and Assistant Gunnery (F4F. F6F).
    5/45-6/45 CASU-6, Utility test pilot (F4U, SNB, SB2C, GB, GH, Various other).
    7/45-8/47 VF-200/(VF-1L), Operations Officer (F6F, F4U, F8F).
    8/47-9/49 VF-171, Flight Officer (FH-1, F2H, P-80, F8F).
    10/49-10/50 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, USAF. Flight Leader (F-84, C-47, T-33).
    11/50-7/51 ATU-2, NAAS Cabaniss Field. Safety Officer (F8F, SNJ, SNB).
    7/51-12/52 JTU-1, NAAS Kingsville Field, TX. Training Officer (TV-1, TV-2).
    12/52-7/53 Navy Line School, Student (F6F, SNB, SNJ).
    7/53-1/55 XO, VF-51 (F9F-6, TV-2).
    1/55-4/56 USS Yorktown, Assistant Air Boss (F9F-5/6/8, FJ-3, JR-3).
    5/56-8/58 85th NORAD Division. Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (T-33, C-41, C-47, L-20, L-27).
    9/58-1/59 VFR-32, Training Officer (A4D, F4D, F9F, F11F, F8U, TV-2, SNB).
    1/59-3/60 XO, VF-121 (F3H, F11F, F9F).
    3/60-11/60 CO, VF-213 (F2H, F9F).
    12/60-1/63 CARDIV ONE, Air Operations (TF, SNB, F3H, F9F, A3D, TV-2).
    2/63-1/65 NAS Miramar, CA, Aircraft Maintenance Officer (C1A, T2A, F3H, F4H, F8U, F9F,C-45).
    1/65-1/68 RCVW-12, C.S.O. (F8, F9, T1, F5, A4, T28, F4, A6, A7, F8).
    1/68-6/71 XO, VRF-32 (A4, A6, A7, F4, F8, T1, T33, S2, C47, T39, P3, C130, C1, T28, C54, C118).
    7/71 Retired from active duty.

    Summary of Significant Career Events
    (1) WW II Ace (Only Navy Ace to shoot down both German and Japanese aircraft).
    (2) 1947 – Navy’s first jet squadron (VF-171) at Quonset Point, RI.
    (3) 1948 – First jet squadron to qualify aboard ship (May 1948), USS Saipan (CVL-48).
    (4) 1949 – As part of National Air Races, won a race flying an F2H Banshee from USS Midway in the Atlantic to Cleveland, OH. Fastest speed recorded at National Air Races at that time (549 mph).
    (5) 1949 – One of the first seven naval aviators to be selected to go on Exchange Duty with USAF. Was one of three principal pilots in movie “Tora, Tora, Tora.” Flew 164 hours in making this film.
    (6) Ran the Tailhook Association for several years during the 60’s and 70’s and also incorporated it
    in California as an educational and professional organization in 1968.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  2. DFC Citation

    The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Dean S. Laird for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron Four, attached to the USS Essex in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Tokyo area, February 17, 1945. While protecting friendly bomber planes attacking heavily defended aircraft engine factories, Lieutenant Laird engaged and destroyed two hostile fighter aircraft, thereby assisting materially in the accomplishment of the assigned mission. His airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    January 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm

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