SAAF 2 Squadron F 86 Sabres
The SAAF deployed number 2 Squadron “Flying Cheetahs” to Korea consisting of an all volunteer group of pilots that had served during WW II. In the course of that conflict over 800 personnel were deployed to Korea. Some had seen combat flying the P 51 Mustang and transitioning to the F 51 made them all feel at home. The SAAF formed part of the USAF 18th FBW and were based at numerous bases throughout the conflict ie. K 10 at Chinhae and later at K 24. The SAAF pilots excelled in CAS missions and as one US Marine put it, after a SAAF pilot had strafed and Napalmed a Chinese human wave assault: “Those pilots flying the F 51’s with the leaping goat insignia are the finest he had ever seen!”
Late in the war the pilots of 2 Squadron transitioned to the F 86 Sabre. One of the SAAF pilots achieved a MIG 15 kill on 18 March 1953. Piolot Eddie (Eddy) Pienaar flying as wingman to USAF Col. Martin encountered a pair of MIG’s over the Yalu river (Mig Alley) Col. Martin and Pienaar engaged the MIG’s. One MIG left the fight and Col. Martin fired at the MIG without any success. Having expended his ammunition he handed the MIG to Pienaar who achieved hits all over the MIG. Low fuel caused them to disengage, however soon after a bright glow was seen by both pilots as the MIG exploded amongst some clouds. Col. Martin was awarded the kill by the Pentagon even though he himself credited Pienaar with the kill.
Thirty-four SAAF pilots would pay the ultimate price for the freedom of South Korea. Only recently when one of the SAAF Korean veterans had passed away, the South Korean government sent a representative to his funeral. Eight pilots became POW’s. The American’s awarded the SAAF pilots 2 Silver Stars, 3 Legion of Merits, 55 DFC’s with 1 Cluster, 40 Bronze Stars, 176 Air Medals with 104 Clusters and 1 Soldiers Medal. Many other Medals issued by the South Koreans were also conferred upon 2 Squadron. President Harry S Truman also awarded them a Presidential Citation for the period 28 November 1951 to 30 April 1952.
13 additional images. Click to enlarge.