John C. Morrissey
In His Words …
I was a Kansas City lad born in 1939. I attended a Jesuit High School and the University of Kansas, graduating with a BS in Business and my ROTC commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force in 1960.
My FAA Commercial, Instrument, and Flight Instructors licenses were completed by the time I was a senior at KU and I instructed and flew charter until June of 1961 when I went to Laredo AFB to join Class 62-H.
From Laredo I went to “Gun School” in the F-100 at Luke AFB to join Class 63-E, graduating in May of 1963. I received my F-105 checkout at Nellis AFB, NV, and subsequent assignment to the 12th TFS/18th TFW at Kadena, Okinawa in October of 1963 for the typical peace-time assignment, maintaining combat readiness and sitting Nuke alert for about ten days a month. In January of 1965, my squadron deployed to Da Nang, and then a few weeks later to Korat.
I was on the first USAF mission of Rolling Thunder into NVN on 2 March 1965, (Robbie Risner leading) and began everyday operations into NVN until we redeployed to Kadena in early April. We resumed alert pad duty and continuation training until June and then returned to Korat for three months. I returned to Korat again in February of 1966 to fly with 421 Squadron until early April, they had suffered very heavy losses and had asked for volunteers from Kadena.
In April of 1966, I received my coveted assignment to the USAF FWS at Nellis in the F-105 R&D (later OT&E) section until 1970 when I was assigned to the Weapon School’s A7D Category III Operational Test and Evaluation section until May of 1972.
At the termination of the A-7D evaluation, I returned to squadron operations of the Fighter business as D Flight Commander of 354 Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, in May of 1972. I deployed TDY to Korat with my Flight in October of ’72, as volunteers with the 354 TFW (A-7Ds) and became E Flight Commander in 356 Squadron (Lt. Col. Charlie Copin Commanding). We began combat missions immediately into Laos, NVN, and South Vietnam. During Operation “Linebacker II” my Flight flew in every one of those “Eleven Days of Christmas” as an integral part of Linebacker IIs daylight bombings and Sandy missions.
After the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January of 1973, I stayed at Korat PCS as D Flight Commander in 3 Squadron, Stan Penny Commanding, until my PCS to the US Army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
I was a River Rat as a First Lt., Captain, and Major. I flew combat missions in the F-105 during parts of 1964, ’65, ’66 in with 12 and 421 Squadrons and ’68, ’69 as the FWS advisor flew with every squadron at Takhli and Korat. In 1972 and ’73 I served with 356, 354, and 3 Squadrons as a Flight Commander in the A-7D, and on the first USAF mission into NVN on the first day of Rolling Thunder on 2 March 1965.
My last mission into NVN was on the last day of LB II on 29 December 1972. Our operations then shifted to Cambodia (not part of the Paris Peace Accords) where my last mission in the war was on 3 June 1973. I returned to the states to attend the US Army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth.
My assignment after graduating from the CGSC was to remain there on faculty, teaching the History of Air Warfare until 1977 when I was reassigned as the USAF Advisor to the South Dakota Air National Guard in the A-7D from 1977 to 1982. When I was promoted Colonel in December of 1982 I was assigned as the Tactical Air Command representative to the 9th Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis Washington 1982 – 1983 when they were changing from a foot-leg infantry division to a “High Tech Mobile Division” to be able to execute a Forced Entry into Iran.
In 1983 I was assigned as Commander, Tactical Air Command Section, to the US Army’s Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth. I was retired on 30 June 1985, by MG Chuck Horner and entered my second career as owner-operator of Great Planes Aerobatics. I founded a competition aerobatic training school in the Kansas City area that has been in continuous operation since my military retirement.
I was Team Leader of the Black Hawk and Holiday Inn four-ship Aerobatic Teams that performed nationwide until 1988.
Other stepping stones during and after my active duty days:
- Member of the Board, Armed Forces Insurance Company 1983 – 1985
- Trainer/ Coach of the USA International Unlimited Aerobatic Teams from 1991 to 1996.
- Conducted Advanced Aerobatic Competition Training in Ashland, Kansas yearly from 1993 to present.
- Gold Medal member of the USA Advanced World Aerobatic Team 1997
- International Aerobatic Club Advanced Category Champion 1980, 1984, 1992.
- US National Aerobatic Champion Advanced Category 1994.
- Inducted into the International Aerobatic Club Hall of Fame – 2019.
- Recipient of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award which requires 50 continuous years of violation and accident-free flight.
- Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity
- The Society of Experimental Test Pilots
- Super Sabre Society
- Charter Member Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association
For more about John, click here http://readyfortakeoffpodcast.com/rft-272-f-105-pilot-aerobatic-coach-john-morrissey/
- 1960 commissioned as a 2nd Lt
- 6/1961 Class 62-H, Laredo AFB, TX
- 5/1963 RTU, Class 63-E, Luke AFB, AZ (F-100)
- 1963 4520th Combat Crew Training Wing, Nellis AFB, NV (F-105D)
- 10/1963-1/1965 12th TFS/18th TFW, Kadena, Okinawa
- 1/1965-6/1965 Operation Rolling Thunder
- 6/1965-2/1966 Kadena AB, Okinawa
- 2/1966-4/1966 421 TFS
- 4/ 1966-1970 USAF Fighter Weapons School, R&D/OT&E (F-105) Nellis AFB, NV
- 1970-5/1972 Fighter Weapon School’s A7D Category III Operational Test and Evaluation section
- 5/1972-10/1972 354 TFS, D Flight Commander, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
- 10/1972 356th TFS,/354th TFW, E Flight Commander, Mission “Linebacker II” Korat AB, Thailand (A-7D)
- 1963 Command and Staff College
- 1964 -1965
- 1965-1972 Rolling Thunder Campaign
- 1972-1973 Cambodia
- 1972 U.S. Army Command and Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth
- 1972-1977 Faculty, CGSC, taught “History of Air Warfare”
- 1977-1982 USAF Advisor to the South Dakota Air National Guard (A-7D)
- 1982-1983 9th Infantry Division, Tactical Air Command representative, Ft. Lewis, WA
- 1983 US Army’s Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Commander, Tactical Air Command Section
- 6/30/1985 Retired USAF
Awards & Decorations
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters
Meritorious Service Medal – with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 2 Silver/2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Silver/2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Wright Brothers Master Pilot award
F-100 – 201.1 hours
F-105 – 1,523.3 hours
A-7D – 2,205 hours
Combat Hours, mostly in NVN and Laos – 461.3
Pitts Aerobatic Aircraft Variants – 5,109 hrs.
Military & Civilian Education
- 1960 ROTC, University of Kansas
- 1960 BS/Business, University of Kansas