Parr, double ace passes...

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Unread post09 Dec 2012, 03:22


Ralph Serman Parr Jr, a retired colonel and one of only a few fighter aces still living in the San Antonio area, flew more than 640 combat missions in three wars, and received more than 60 citations. He's the only person awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the medal that replaced it in 1960: the Air Force Cross.

Parr was born July 1, 1924, in Portsmouth, Va. He enlisted in 1942 and flew in the Pacific during World War II.

His actions in Korea, where he was often outnumbered by enemy aircraft, made him a legend. Parr and longtime friend and flying companion Frederick “Boots” Blesse trained together at Nellis AFB, Nev., in quick, agile F-86 Sabres.

Both of them became double aces, each shooting down 10 enemy aircraft in the war. Parr was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross after he confronted 10 MiGs, destroying two before escorting a distressed friendly aircraft back to his base.

While being treated for cancer, Parr kept a framed copy of a painting of Blesse shooting down a MiG in his room. Blesse, 91, died Oct. 31 near his home in Florida.

Parr said he was proud that he “stayed in fighters and tried to teach” young pilots in Vietnam. He received the Air Force Cross for protecting a supply route to Khe Sanh, destroying mortar and heavy-caliber weapons positions in spite of battle damage to his F-4C Phantom II.

Parr retired in 1976 and moved to New Braunfels. In 2008, the Randolph officers' club, now called the Parr O'Club, was renamed in his honor. The local “River Rat” chapter of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association was named the Ralph Parr Pack in his honor.

“He came to every monthly River Rat party until he became too ill to travel,” said Gary Baber, a friend and former Vietnam pilot.

Parr is survived by his wife Margaret and three step children. Arrangements for a local funeral and burial at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery are pending.

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