Dean Abbott, 91, headed west on May 7, 2019, just a day before the 74th anniversary of his enlisting to fly in WWII. That war ended before he could get in the action. But he later found combat in the skies of Korea (F-86) and Vietnam (O-1 FAC), earning Silver and Bronze Stars, a DFC, and many Air Medals. He retired from the USAF as a Lt Col in 1971, with over 4,000 hours, mostly in fighters. He brought the family back to his home state of Oregon, where he had a very successful second career as a realtor.
Two of his kids followed him into the Air Force, brothers Joe (F-111, F-16, C-12) and Tom (A-10, F-16) both enjoying long careers as fighter pilots. Tom now flies for Southwest, and Joe lived with his dad as his caregiver for the last 8 years. All four of his kids were at his bedside when he took his last breath, and it was very peaceful. He was humming and whistling to his favorite tunes, flirting with nurses, and asking for a beer, right up to the day before he passed.
Dean flew the F-86, F-104, C-47, F-100, O-1, AT-33, and A-7, but he always had the same answer when questioned which was his favorite: the Sabre. He’s written articles of his exploits being Capt Joe McConnell’s wingman on some famous missions over the Yalu River, as well as a few other Korean war stories, in “Sabre Jet Classics.” Dean’s cousin Earl Wisecarver happened to be in the very same squadron with him during that conflict, the 39th FIS.
Perhaps his most notable sortie was on 18 May 1953, when McConnell got his 14th and 15th kills with Dean on his wing, alone as a two-ship. As McConnell was chasing a northbound MiG-15 and scoring some damaging hits on the MiG from below and behind, Dean was calling out MiGs coming at them from all directions. On the squadron frequency, at one point Dean was heard to say “My God, there must be 30 of them!” which elicited McConnell’s now-famous reply: “Yeh, and we’ve got’em all to ourselves!” In the fracas that followed, McConnell shot two MiGs off Dean’s tail, becoming the first triple jet ace. They somehow survived that melee and both landed back at K-13 on fumes. McConnell raced up and got his 16th and final kill later that same day, and was sent home the next.
Dean also appeared along with Buzz Aldrin, Bob Hoover, Bud Mahurin, and others on a 2002 History Channel episode called “F-86 Sabre: Jet Strike!”. Link to that video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8EPpkEQtqU
A celebration of life reception is planned for Dean Abbott at the family home in Eugene, Oregon. It will be held on Sunday, June 30th, at 1 pm. All who knew Dean are welcome to attend. For details contact his son Joe, at ABBOTTJ@cox.net
He was a quintessential Fighter Pilot, and the world will be a lesser place without him. Nickel on the grass!