James H. Kasler


 

Preferred Name: Jim

Nickname/Call Sign: Destroyer/Stoneface

Date of Birth: May 2, 1926 (Died April 24, 2014)

Highest Military Grade Held: Colonel

Hometown: Zanesville, OH

Biography

On June 21, Kasler was invited to lead the mission against the POL storage facilities at Hanoi, much to his surprise, and to the discomfort of Colonel William H. Holt, the commander of 335th Tactical Fighter Wing, who otherwise would have led the large raid. The briefing focused on the weather to be clear and winds to be light and variable, which are both perfect for fighter operations. Both wings, the 355th and the 338th Tactical Fighter Wing, would approach the target from the south, to minimize the chances of a bomb ending up in the city of Hanoi. Each plane carried eight 750-pound bombs.

F-105D at Takhli RTAFB

Take-off weight 51,000 pounds, near maximum for the F-105. Kasler rolled down the runway and lifted off at 235 knots. Airborne, he headed north for the rendezvous with the aerial tankers. They refueled uneventfully and were three minutes ahead of schedule. Kasler led the Thuds in a circle to kill the 180 seconds. Twenty minutes later, they were over the Red River and Kasler began to lose altitude, until they were 300 feet off the ground, at the base of “Thud Ridge,” the landmark mountain range that ran east-west across North Vietnam’s mid-section.

As they dropped tanks, they could see smoke rising up from the POL tanks, already hit by U.S Navy jets. Flak blossomed all around them, even at 300 feet. The NVA gunners had their 85mm and 100mm pieces at zero elevation. Amidst the smoke from the target and puffs of anti-aircraft fire, Kasler called for afterburners and went into his bomb run. Big fat oil tanks filled he dropped his bombs and rolled away to the right. Turning back, he saw the fuel tanks erupting into huge billowing fireballs, thousands of feet high.

His flight crossed the Red River and the flak gunners switched to fighter-bombers behind him. Flying west, looking for targets of opportunity, he found a convoy of twenty-five trucks. The Thunderchiefs shot at them with 20mm cannon fire, destroying at least half of them. He glanced back at Hanoi, now 35 miles behind. A pillar of black smoke towered up, over six miles high.

The Hanoi POL strike was very successful. Over 90 percent of the facility was destroyed and the Vietnamese abandoned it altogether. For leading this mission Kasler earned his first Air Force Cross. By August 1966, an article in Time Magazine labeled him “the hottest pilot” in Vietnam and his wingmates called him “a one-man Air Force”.

Prisoner of War

While flying F-105D-31-RE Thunderchief 62-4343 on his 91st combat mission on August 8, 1966, Kasler was awarded a second Air Force Cross as leader of a formation that was evaluating low-level delivery against a priority target. When his wingman was hit and ejected, Major Kasler located the downed pilot, flew cover at low altitude until his fuel was almost gone, rendezvous with a tanker, and returned to direct rescue operations. Flying at treetop level in an attempt to relocate his wingman, Kasler’s F-105 was disabled by ground fire. He ejected, was captured and singled out for special attention by his captors and tortured repeatedly to get him to cooperate with their propaganda efforts.

 Hỏa Lò Prison

For more than a month in 1967, Kasler was the target of nearly continuous daily torture. He received his third award of the Air Force Cross for resisting torture inflicted on him over a two-month period during the summer of 1968 in an attempt to coerce his cooperation with visiting anti-war delegations and propaganda filmmakers.

Kasler described his worst treatment:

My worst session of torture began in late June 1968. The Vietnamese were attempting to force me to meet a delegation and appear before TV cameras on the occasion of the supposed 3,000th American airplane shot down over North Vietnam. I couldn’t say the things they were trying to force me to say. I was tortured for six weeks. I went through the ropes and irons ten times. I was denied sleep for five days and during three of these was beaten every hour on the hour with a fan belt. During the entire period I was on a starvation diet. I was very sick during this period. I had contracted osteomyelitis in early 1967 and had a massive bone infection in my right leg. They would wrap my leg before each torture session so I wouldn’t get pus or blood all over the floor of the interrogation room. During this time they beat my face to a pulp. I couldn’t get my teeth apart for five days. My ear drum was ruptured, one of my ribs broken and the pin in my right leg was broken loose and driven up into my hip.

At one point, during the fall of 1967, Kasler’s captors took his clothes and his mosquito net. For three days, they denied him food and water and they beat his back and buttocks with a truck fan belt, every hour on the hour, 6 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m. His torturer asked if he surrendered. Kasler finally gasped yes.

The guard nicknamed “Fidel” by the POWs returned to Kasler’s cell the next day and demanded that he surrender. Kasler refused and the beatings resumed and continued for another two days. Kasler suffered a fractured rib, a ruptured eardrum and broken teeth. He was left with the skin hanging off his rear end down to the floor. His face was so swollen, it hung like a bag, his eyes almost shut. Kasler’s mangled and infected leg, which tormented him throughout his captivity and for years afterward, swelled to the point he feared it would explode.

Kasler shared the infamous Room 7 of the “Hanoi Hilton” with other POW’s like Robinson Risner, James Stockdale, Bud Day, John McCain, Lawrence Guarino, and Jeremiah Denton. Like his fellow prisoners, he never cooperated with the North Vietnamese.

He was finally released on March 4, 1973, during Operation Homecoming, after spending 2,401 days in captivity.

After Release

Following his return to the United States, he was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and then attended Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base from August 1973 to July 1974. Kasler’s final assignment was as an F-111 Aardvark pilot and Vice Commander of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base from August 1974 until his retirement from the Air Force on May 1, 1975, at the rank of Colonel.

(source: Wikipedia)

JAMES H. KASLER was a Korean War “Ace” flying the F-86 with 100 missions, and a USA Air Corp B-29 tailgunner in the Pacific Theater during WWII, flying 7 missions.

Captured: August 8, 1966
Released: March 4, 1973

“I was shot down over North Vietnam on 8 August 1966 while flying my 91st mission. I knew my internment would not be a pleasant one, but little did I imagine that we would be subjected to years of torture accompanied by constant pressure. It’s difficult to imagine the mental anguish that we went through, waiting in isolation for them to come after you and fearing that you would not be strong enough to resist being forced into taping or writing something which would harm our country or its cause.

During those early years we were kept in isolation so much of the time and denied anything with which to occupy our minds. We were never allowed to see or communicate with other prisoners and never allowed out of our cells except for an occasional bath.

The Vietnamese kept us in isolation and denied us anything to occupy our minds for a good reason; for when a man living under these conditions is subjected to any mental inputs or torture it remains vivid in his memory for months.

Brainwashing has been described as torture, fear, relief, and then repeated until the individual becomes receptive to and is willing to parrot anything he is told. Isolation, starvation and denial of sleep are used in conjunction with brainwashing to reduce individual’s resistance. The Vietnamese employed all of these techniques but they were crude and ruthless in their approach. They were impatient for results and when they were not forthcoming, they became even more ruthless.”

For days in late June 1968, Air Force Ace Major James Kasler was tortured by Fidel1.  Fidel beat Kasler across the buttocks with a large truck fan belt until “he tore my rear end to shreds”.

“My worst session of torture began in late June 1968. The Vietnamese were attempting to force me to meet a delegation and appear before TV cameras on the occasion of the supposed 30000th American airplane ever North Vietnam. I couldn’t say the things they were trying to force me to say. I was tortured
for six weeks. I went through the ropes and irons ten times. I was denied sleep for five days and during three of these was beaten every hour on the hour with a fan belt. During the entire period I was on a starvation diet. I was very sick during this period. I had contacted osteomyelitis in early 1967 and had a massive bone infection in my right leg.

They would wrap my  leg before  each  torture  session  so I wouldn’t get pus  or blood all over the floor of the interrogation room. During this time they beat my face to a pulp. I couldn’t get my teeth apart for five days.  My ear drum was ruptured, one of my ribs broken and the pin in my right leg was broken loose and driven up into my hip.

I lay in agony for six months until I was given an operation in January of 1969.

I surrendered a number of times during this torture session but when they tried to get me to do something I would refuse. By the time they were finished with me I was in no condition to do anything.

Their purpose of course was to exploit the POW’s to try to force us to parrot their propaganda in tapes or letters to delegations which came to Hanoi. But our treatment in Hanoi only strengthened our resistence and our faith in our country and its cause in Southeast Asia.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Anyone can carry his burden, however hard until nightfall, anyone can do his work however hard for one day.” This was the pattern of our lives in Hanoi during those early years of terror. We lived to endure each day hoping that nightfall would bring us a few hours of relief. We could have easily compromised our beliefs and made our lives much easier by cooperating with the Vietnamese. But our goal was to return home with our honor. Some brave men did not survive those early years but those who did came home with dignity and pride.”

  1. The Cuban torturers were given the names “Fidel” “Chico” and “Pancho”. They were part of a Cuban diplomatic contingent assigned to Hanoi’s Enemy
    Proselytizing Bureau, and were directly responsible for the murder and
    torture of a considerable number of American POWs. According to one CIA dispatch, the Cuban Program” was conducted at the Cuu Loc PW camp from August 1967 through July 1968.According to a DIA report, “the objective of the interrogators was to obtain
    the total submission of the prisoners….” However, this report may not have
    been entirely accurate. One intelligence source, who reportedly interviewed “Fidel” and other Cuban interrogators in Hanoi, claims they said that their real job was to act as gate-keepers for the Soviets, and helped select highly-skilled pilots and electronic warfare backseaters, who became “Moscow Bound”.

 

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE – 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Units Assigned

WWII
6/1945 – 5/1946 15th Bomb Squadron/9th Bomb Group
5/1946 1946 Air Force Reserve

1/1950 Pilot Training, F-84
Combat Crew Training F-84
7/1951-11/1951 74th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Presque Isle AFB, F-86 Sabre

Korean War
11/1951-6/1952 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing/335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, F-86E
355th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
366th Tactical Fighter Wing

8/1952-7/1954 3594th Fighter Training Squadron,  Nellis AFB, Fighter Gunnery Instructor 7/1954-7/1955 3525th Aircraft Gunnery Squadron, Nellis AFB, Research and Development pilot
7/1955-7/1957 Royal Canadian Air Force on the Central Coordinating Staff in Ottawa, Canada
9/1957-2/1959 308th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, Turner AFB, F-100
2/1959-11/1962 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB
7/1963-2/1966 53d Tactical Fighter Squadron/36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, F-105

Vietnam
7/1963-2/1966 53d Tactical Fighter Squadron/36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, F-105
2/1966 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron/335th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand

Captured: August 8, 1966
Released: March 4, 1973

8/1973-7/1984 Air War College, Maxwell AFB
8/1974-5/1/1975 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Mountain Home AFB, Vice Commander, F-111
5/1/1975 retired.

Awards & Decorations

 Air Force Cross (3) (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Silver Star (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
 Legion of Merit
 Distinguished Flying Cross (with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters with V device)
 Distinguished Flying Cross (second ribbon required for accoutrement spacing)
 Bronze Star Medal (with bronze oak leaf cluster with V device)
 Purple Heart (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
 Air Medal (with two silver oak leaf clusters)
 Air Force Commendation Medal (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Presidential Unit Citation (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (with V device and two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Prisoner of War Medal
 Combat Readiness Medal
 Army Good Conduct Medal
 American Campaign Medal
 Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two bronze campaign stars)
 World War II Victory Medal
 National Defense Service Medal (with bronze service star)
 Korean Service Medal (with two bronze campaign stars)
 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
 Vietnam Service Medal (with three silver and one bronze campaign stars)
 Air Force Longevity Service Award (with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
 Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
 Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
 United Nations Service Medal for Korea
 Vietnam Campaign Medal
 Korean War Service Medal
COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png Command Pilot Badge

Flight Info

F-84
F-86 E
F-100
F-105
F-111

Military Education

1/1950 Pilot Training, F-84
1950/1951 Combat Crew Training F-84
8/1973-7/1984 Air War College, Maxwell AFB

Civilian Education

Butler University
1963 BA, University of Omaha

Kasler

A statue of Colonel James H. Kasler stands in the Kasler-Momence Veterans Park outside Momence Junior High School. Kasler served in the United States Air Force from 1944 to 1975 as a tail gunner on a B-29 bomber during World War II. He flew an F86 Sabrejet during the Korean War and a P105 jet in Vietnam where he was shot down and served as a prisoner of war. He was awarded 76 military awards for valor and service, including three air force crosses. (Photo by Mike Voss)

Perry Luckett and Charles Byler have written the first biography of Col. James Kasler, who is the only three-time recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest medal for wartime valor. Kasler served as an eighteen-year-old B-29 tail gunner in World War II, became a legendary jet ace in Korea, and was so famous in Vietnam that he was known by name in the White House. Major General Hoyt Vandenberg put Kasler, along with Chuck Yeager and Robbie Risner, as “head and shoulders above the rest as stick-and-rudder pilots.”

Biography

Biography

On June 21, Kasler was invited to lead the mission against the POL storage facilities at Hanoi, much to his surprise, and to the discomfort of Colonel William H. Holt, the commander of 335th Tactical Fighter Wing, who otherwise would have led the large raid. The briefing focused on the weather to be clear and winds to be light and variable, which are both perfect for fighter operations. Both wings, the 355th and the 338th Tactical Fighter Wing, would approach the target from the south, to minimize the chances of a bomb ending up in the city of Hanoi. Each plane carried eight 750-pound bombs.

F-105D at Takhli RTAFB

Take-off weight 51,000 pounds, near maximum for the F-105. Kasler rolled down the runway and lifted off at 235 knots. Airborne, he headed north for the rendezvous with the aerial tankers. They refueled uneventfully and were three minutes ahead of schedule. Kasler led the Thuds in a circle to kill the 180 seconds. Twenty minutes later, they were over the Red River and Kasler began to lose altitude, until they were 300 feet off the ground, at the base of “Thud Ridge,” the landmark mountain range that ran east-west across North Vietnam’s mid-section.

As they dropped tanks, they could see smoke rising up from the POL tanks, already hit by U.S Navy jets. Flak blossomed all around them, even at 300 feet. The NVA gunners had their 85mm and 100mm pieces at zero elevation. Amidst the smoke from the target and puffs of anti-aircraft fire, Kasler called for afterburners and went into his bomb run. Big fat oil tanks filled he dropped his bombs and rolled away to the right. Turning back, he saw the fuel tanks erupting into huge billowing fireballs, thousands of feet high.

His flight crossed the Red River and the flak gunners switched to fighter-bombers behind him. Flying west, looking for targets of opportunity, he found a convoy of twenty-five trucks. The Thunderchiefs shot at them with 20mm cannon fire, destroying at least half of them. He glanced back at Hanoi, now 35 miles behind. A pillar of black smoke towered up, over six miles high.

The Hanoi POL strike was very successful. Over 90 percent of the facility was destroyed and the Vietnamese abandoned it altogether. For leading this mission Kasler earned his first Air Force Cross. By August 1966, an article in Time Magazine labeled him “the hottest pilot” in Vietnam and his wingmates called him “a one-man Air Force”.

Prisoner of War

While flying F-105D-31-RE Thunderchief 62-4343 on his 91st combat mission on August 8, 1966, Kasler was awarded a second Air Force Cross as leader of a formation that was evaluating low-level delivery against a priority target. When his wingman was hit and ejected, Major Kasler located the downed pilot, flew cover at low altitude until his fuel was almost gone, rendezvous with a tanker, and returned to direct rescue operations. Flying at treetop level in an attempt to relocate his wingman, Kasler’s F-105 was disabled by ground fire. He ejected, was captured and singled out for special attention by his captors and tortured repeatedly to get him to cooperate with their propaganda efforts.

 Hỏa Lò Prison

For more than a month in 1967, Kasler was the target of nearly continuous daily torture. He received his third award of the Air Force Cross for resisting torture inflicted on him over a two-month period during the summer of 1968 in an attempt to coerce his cooperation with visiting anti-war delegations and propaganda filmmakers.

Kasler described his worst treatment:

My worst session of torture began in late June 1968. The Vietnamese were attempting to force me to meet a delegation and appear before TV cameras on the occasion of the supposed 3,000th American airplane shot down over North Vietnam. I couldn’t say the things they were trying to force me to say. I was tortured for six weeks. I went through the ropes and irons ten times. I was denied sleep for five days and during three of these was beaten every hour on the hour with a fan belt. During the entire period I was on a starvation diet. I was very sick during this period. I had contracted osteomyelitis in early 1967 and had a massive bone infection in my right leg. They would wrap my leg before each torture session so I wouldn’t get pus or blood all over the floor of the interrogation room. During this time they beat my face to a pulp. I couldn’t get my teeth apart for five days. My ear drum was ruptured, one of my ribs broken and the pin in my right leg was broken loose and driven up into my hip.

At one point, during the fall of 1967, Kasler’s captors took his clothes and his mosquito net. For three days, they denied him food and water and they beat his back and buttocks with a truck fan belt, every hour on the hour, 6 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m. His torturer asked if he surrendered. Kasler finally gasped yes.

The guard nicknamed “Fidel” by the POWs returned to Kasler’s cell the next day and demanded that he surrender. Kasler refused and the beatings resumed and continued for another two days. Kasler suffered a fractured rib, a ruptured eardrum and broken teeth. He was left with the skin hanging off his rear end down to the floor. His face was so swollen, it hung like a bag, his eyes almost shut. Kasler’s mangled and infected leg, which tormented him throughout his captivity and for years afterward, swelled to the point he feared it would explode.

Kasler shared the infamous Room 7 of the “Hanoi Hilton” with other POW’s like Robinson Risner, James Stockdale, Bud Day, John McCain, Lawrence Guarino, and Jeremiah Denton. Like his fellow prisoners, he never cooperated with the North Vietnamese.

He was finally released on March 4, 1973, during Operation Homecoming, after spending 2,401 days in captivity.

After Release

Following his return to the United States, he was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and then attended Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base from August 1973 to July 1974. Kasler’s final assignment was as an F-111 Aardvark pilot and Vice Commander of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base from August 1974 until his retirement from the Air Force on May 1, 1975, at the rank of Colonel.

(source: Wikipedia)

POW

JAMES H. KASLER was a Korean War “Ace” flying the F-86 with 100 missions, and a USA Air Corp B-29 tailgunner in the Pacific Theater during WWII, flying 7 missions.

Captured: August 8, 1966
Released: March 4, 1973

“I was shot down over North Vietnam on 8 August 1966 while flying my 91st mission. I knew my internment would not be a pleasant one, but little did I imagine that we would be subjected to years of torture accompanied by constant pressure. It’s difficult to imagine the mental anguish that we went through, waiting in isolation for them to come after you and fearing that you would not be strong enough to resist being forced into taping or writing something which would harm our country or its cause.

During those early years we were kept in isolation so much of the time and denied anything with which to occupy our minds. We were never allowed to see or communicate with other prisoners and never allowed out of our cells except for an occasional bath.

The Vietnamese kept us in isolation and denied us anything to occupy our minds for a good reason; for when a man living under these conditions is subjected to any mental inputs or torture it remains vivid in his memory for months.

Brainwashing has been described as torture, fear, relief, and then repeated until the individual becomes receptive to and is willing to parrot anything he is told. Isolation, starvation and denial of sleep are used in conjunction with brainwashing to reduce individual’s resistance. The Vietnamese employed all of these techniques but they were crude and ruthless in their approach. They were impatient for results and when they were not forthcoming, they became even more ruthless.”

For days in late June 1968, Air Force Ace Major James Kasler was tortured by Fidel1.  Fidel beat Kasler across the buttocks with a large truck fan belt until “he tore my rear end to shreds”.

“My worst session of torture began in late June 1968. The Vietnamese were attempting to force me to meet a delegation and appear before TV cameras on the occasion of the supposed 30000th American airplane ever North Vietnam. I couldn’t say the things they were trying to force me to say. I was tortured
for six weeks. I went through the ropes and irons ten times. I was denied sleep for five days and during three of these was beaten every hour on the hour with a fan belt. During the entire period I was on a starvation diet. I was very sick during this period. I had contacted osteomyelitis in early 1967 and had a massive bone infection in my right leg.

They would wrap my  leg before  each  torture  session  so I wouldn’t get pus  or blood all over the floor of the interrogation room. During this time they beat my face to a pulp. I couldn’t get my teeth apart for five days.  My ear drum was ruptured, one of my ribs broken and the pin in my right leg was broken loose and driven up into my hip.

I lay in agony for six months until I was given an operation in January of 1969.

I surrendered a number of times during this torture session but when they tried to get me to do something I would refuse. By the time they were finished with me I was in no condition to do anything.

Their purpose of course was to exploit the POW’s to try to force us to parrot their propaganda in tapes or letters to delegations which came to Hanoi. But our treatment in Hanoi only strengthened our resistence and our faith in our country and its cause in Southeast Asia.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Anyone can carry his burden, however hard until nightfall, anyone can do his work however hard for one day.” This was the pattern of our lives in Hanoi during those early years of terror. We lived to endure each day hoping that nightfall would bring us a few hours of relief. We could have easily compromised our beliefs and made our lives much easier by cooperating with the Vietnamese. But our goal was to return home with our honor. Some brave men did not survive those early years but those who did came home with dignity and pride.”

  1. The Cuban torturers were given the names “Fidel” “Chico” and “Pancho”. They were part of a Cuban diplomatic contingent assigned to Hanoi’s Enemy
    Proselytizing Bureau, and were directly responsible for the murder and
    torture of a considerable number of American POWs. According to one CIA dispatch, the Cuban Program” was conducted at the Cuu Loc PW camp from August 1967 through July 1968.According to a DIA report, “the objective of the interrogators was to obtain
    the total submission of the prisoners….” However, this report may not have
    been entirely accurate. One intelligence source, who reportedly interviewed “Fidel” and other Cuban interrogators in Hanoi, claims they said that their real job was to act as gate-keepers for the Soviets, and helped select highly-skilled pilots and electronic warfare backseaters, who became “Moscow Bound”.

 

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME  copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
spelling errors).
UPDATE – 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Units - Education - Awards - Flight Info

Units Assigned

WWII
6/1945 – 5/1946 15th Bomb Squadron/9th Bomb Group
5/1946 1946 Air Force Reserve

1/1950 Pilot Training, F-84
Combat Crew Training F-84
7/1951-11/1951 74th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Presque Isle AFB, F-86 Sabre

Korean War
11/1951-6/1952 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing/335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, F-86E
355th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
366th Tactical Fighter Wing

8/1952-7/1954 3594th Fighter Training Squadron,  Nellis AFB, Fighter Gunnery Instructor 7/1954-7/1955 3525th Aircraft Gunnery Squadron, Nellis AFB, Research and Development pilot
7/1955-7/1957 Royal Canadian Air Force on the Central Coordinating Staff in Ottawa, Canada
9/1957-2/1959 308th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, Turner AFB, F-100
2/1959-11/1962 334th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB
7/1963-2/1966 53d Tactical Fighter Squadron/36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, F-105

Vietnam
7/1963-2/1966 53d Tactical Fighter Squadron/36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, F-105
2/1966 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron/335th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand

Captured: August 8, 1966
Released: March 4, 1973

8/1973-7/1984 Air War College, Maxwell AFB
8/1974-5/1/1975 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Mountain Home AFB, Vice Commander, F-111
5/1/1975 retired.

Awards & Decorations

 Air Force Cross (3) (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Silver Star (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
 Legion of Merit
 Distinguished Flying Cross (with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters with V device)
 Distinguished Flying Cross (second ribbon required for accoutrement spacing)
 Bronze Star Medal (with bronze oak leaf cluster with V device)
 Purple Heart (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
 Air Medal (with two silver oak leaf clusters)
 Air Force Commendation Medal (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Presidential Unit Citation (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (with V device and two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Prisoner of War Medal
 Combat Readiness Medal
 Army Good Conduct Medal
 American Campaign Medal
 Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with two bronze campaign stars)
 World War II Victory Medal
 National Defense Service Medal (with bronze service star)
 Korean Service Medal (with two bronze campaign stars)
 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
 Vietnam Service Medal (with three silver and one bronze campaign stars)
 Air Force Longevity Service Award (with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters)
 Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
 Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
 Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
 United Nations Service Medal for Korea
 Vietnam Campaign Medal
 Korean War Service Medal
COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png Command Pilot Badge

Flight Info

F-84
F-86 E
F-100
F-105
F-111

Military Education

1/1950 Pilot Training, F-84
1950/1951 Combat Crew Training F-84
8/1973-7/1984 Air War College, Maxwell AFB

Civilian Education

Butler University
1963 BA, University of Omaha

Photos

Kasler

A statue of Colonel James H. Kasler stands in the Kasler-Momence Veterans Park outside Momence Junior High School. Kasler served in the United States Air Force from 1944 to 1975 as a tail gunner on a B-29 bomber during World War II. He flew an F86 Sabrejet during the Korean War and a P105 jet in Vietnam where he was shot down and served as a prisoner of war. He was awarded 76 military awards for valor and service, including three air force crosses. (Photo by Mike Voss)

Video
Books

Perry Luckett and Charles Byler have written the first biography of Col. James Kasler, who is the only three-time recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest medal for wartime valor. Kasler served as an eighteen-year-old B-29 tail gunner in World War II, became a legendary jet ace in Korea, and was so famous in Vietnam that he was known by name in the White House. Major General Hoyt Vandenberg put Kasler, along with Chuck Yeager and Robbie Risner, as “head and shoulders above the rest as stick-and-rudder pilots.”