RAY SEAVER: KOREAN WAR FIGHTER PILOT
Ray was born in Forbes 1931 during the depression.
By 1950/51, Ray was working as a Cadet Engineer in the Blue Mountains Shire but found it did not suit his temperament when he saw an Air Force advert recruiting Pilots. He joined the Air Force and was sent for Pilot Training. In July 1952, he was awarded his Wings and was posted to Fighters learning to fly Mustangs and Vampires.
Ray was then posted to 77 Squadron, Iwakuni, Japan via Hong Kong, for further training on twin engine Meteors and then to Korea. Korea was blistering cold after Australia.
At this stage he had less than 300 hrs flying and felt like Aero Club pilots had more hours.
77 Sqn operations were out of a very busy military airfield. Their accommodation was in tents of 6 people each and was heated by a big central burner but was still freezing.
The new arrivals of which he was one were largely about 21 years old and were there to learn the Art of War though interdiction. We had very little knowledge of why were in Korea. We had all lived sheltered lives and here we were fighting a war.
We either bombed, rocketed or straffed – all very challenging for novice pilots. If they were shooting at us in the dive we could see the “golf balls” going past us, hopefully
On the dives, misjudging the height and hills could lead to ground collisions, which happened. Sometimes if we pressed in to adjust our aim we would get hit by debris from the explosions. Additionally you could get target fixation and fly into the ground.
Enemy aircraft were sometimes a problem that needed good tactics to survive. Ray has a few good stories about encountering Migs.
Crashes and deaths were a fact of life but people in 77 Sqn just kept getting on with it.
When you flew 40 combat missions with 77 Sqn, you had earned a medal from the Americans. When you flew 80 missions with 77 Sqn, your medal was upgraded. But then the powers that be in Australia decided against Aussies accepting foreign decorations and banned us from wearing them.
Listen to Ray as he talks mainly about life in Korea.