Frederick Corbin "Boots" Blesse, 91, passed away on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 in Melbourne, Florida. Boots proudly served in the United States Air Force for 30 years upon graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1945. He flew in two combat tours during the Korean War. During his second tour, he was credited with shooting down nine MiG-15s and one La-9. At the time of his return to the United States in October 1952, he was America's leading jet ace.
He was a member of the Air Training Command Fighter Gunnery Team in 1955. That year, his team won the Air Force Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Championship. During the 1955 gunnery competition, Boots, flying an F-86F aircraft, won all six trophies for individual performance, a feat never equaled. Following tours of duty in Korea, Boots wrote the fighter tactics book, "No Guts, No Glory". This book has been used as a basis of fighter combat operations for the Royal Air Force, the U. S. Marine Corps, Chinese Nationalist, Korean Air Force, and U.S. Air Force since 1955.
Awards and Decorations
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross; Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters; Legion of Meric with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross with five oak leaf clusters; Bronze Star with "V" device; Air Medal with 20 oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster; Army Commendation Medal; Purple Heart; and from the Republic of Vietnam, the Cross of Gallantry.
He was a command pilot with more than 6,500 flying hours, most of which have been in fighter aircraft including the P-40, P-47, P-51 Mustang, P-80, F-86, F-100, F-102, A-7, F-104, F-106, F-4, and F-111. At the time of his death, he had more than 650 hours combat flying and was the nation's sixth ranking jet ace.
Boots is survived by his wife, Betty; children, Kent Blesse, Melanie Blesse Fileppo, Angelie Blesse, and Chris Blesse; step-children, Bill Lynch, Eileen Husselbaugh, and Dan Lynch; brother, Jim Blesse; and sister, Joan Griffin.
A funeral mass will be held on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:30am at St. John the Evangelist. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in the memory of General Blesse to the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org).
Florida Memorial Funeral Home is entrusted with arrangements.