|Birth: ||Feb. 1, 1922|
|Death: ||Dec. 19, 2002|
Ace and noted Navy pilot.
Air terminal dedicated to Ruston native
Louisiana Gannett News
Hero status is not a term tossed around lightly these days, but those who knew the late U.S. Navy Cmdr. Guy Bordelon say he is one of the few people who truly embodied the term.
The Ruston native became the U.S. Navy's only Korean War ace, the only night ace of that war and the only propeller ace to gun down five enemy airplanes. In fact, because of the demise of propeller planes, Bordelon is likely the last propeller ace ever.
In commemoration of his life and achievements, relatives and friends gathered with U.S. Navy personnel Saturday morning outside New Orleans to dedicate the Guy P. Bordelon Jr. Air Terminal at Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base.
The air station is honored to connect itself with an American hero like Bordelon, who died in 2002 at the age of 80, said Capt. Stan Hudson, base commanding officer.
He read an excerpt from an account written by Bordelon about his greatest reward after earning ace pilot status, Top Gun honors, the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars and more than 15,000 hours of flight experience during his 27-year Naval career.
"My top award, though, was again to return to my family's arms," Bordelon's words say. "To my son, Marc, my daughters, Marcia and Michele, and my wife, for whom I named my aircraft 'Annie-Mo,' remains the love of my life."
Annie-Mo herself, Anne Bordelon, was overcome by the experience. "This has been overwhelming. And my family and I will always remember it," she said before stating what her husband would have said if present: "'I was just doing my duty.'"
Judge Joseph Bleich, a longtime family friend from Ruston, described Bordelon as a great family man and inspiration who creatively wrote letters to his children through the guise of a "little green lizard" that served as his co-pilot. But Bleich also remembered him as a model of courage and strength who did not know the word "impossible."
In one example, Bleich said, an officer had declared bluntly that Bordelon would die in an anticipated battle. "Cmdr. Bordelon's response to the warning ... was, 'I was not about to die, but kill the enemy,' and he did. He made his kills at a time of pain when seven of his comrades had just met their fate."
Bordelon is credited with shooting down five North Korean planes in a 17-day span in 1953 during dangerous, low-flight night missions.
He was an inspiration and role model to those he met as he traveled from Korea and Vietnam to Alaska and Hawaii, Bleich said. Both of Bordelon's daughters agreed.
"He was an inspiration that nothing is impossible," Michele Bordelon said. "All these people here today are such an affirmation to that."
The sisters said that their father was humble and that, as a result, they did not realize the extent of his accomplishments until recent years.
Michele Bordelon said she searched online for information about her father and was blown away by the results.
"The significance really just dawned on me over the last few years," Marcia Bordelon added. "I'd always just thought 'That's my father. He flies airplanes.'"
She said his love of flight even came through in his later years, when he endorsed motorized scooters and rode his around the neighborhood, jokingly calling it his little plane.
Ruston dermatologist T.D. Carey befriended the Bordelons and made the push with U.S. Sen. John Breaux to honor their late husband and father. Carey also helped initiate Guy Bordelon Day in Louisiana a few years ago as proclaimed by Gov. Mike Foster.
"He was a hero in the truest sense of the word," Carey said during an earlier interview. "In this day and time, there seem to be fewer and fewer like him."
Bordelon is also credited with foiling a bombing mission of two enemy aircraft by flying at them when his guns had jammed.
Most of his action came during evening runs, when the North Koreans took their World War II-vintage planes on low-to-the-ground harassment raids that destroyed countless fuel and supplies.
As documented in Eric Hammel's Aces at War, Vol. 4, the military called in Bordelon's propeller unit to counter the slower North Korean planes. On June 29, 1953, Bordelon shot down two Yak-18 planes. The next evening, he downed two Lavochin La-11 fighters.
About two weeks later, he followed another La-11 through dangerous enemy aircraft before taking it down for the final kill in his F4U-5N Corsair plane.
Bordelon became an instructor after the Korean War and taught survival training to pilots in Vietnam. He later worked with NASA in supporting Apollo recovery missions before retiring.
"He retired just before the first moon landing, and we watched together on TV," Anne Bordelon recalled earlier this week. "I always thought it was a great ending for his career."
Bordelon also is honored by an exhibit at the Louisiana Military Museum in Ruston. "At his retirement ceremony, the wind wrapped the American flag around him and someone pointed out the Navy didn't want to lose a good military man," museum director Ernie Stevens said earlier this week, adding that he knew Bordelon well. "The flag just didn't want to let him go."
Plot: Plot 2, section 1
Maintained by: John Andrew Prime
Originally Created by: Sharon Ray
Record added: Jul 28, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 20668237
CDR - Commander (O-5) is the fifth highest commissioned officer rank in the US Navy. We the people, thank you for your service. R.I.P. Commander Bordelon.|
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