07/22/05 — South Korean pilots complete mission

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South Korean pilots complete mission

By Gene Price
Published in News on July 22, 2005 1:45 PM

A Korean War flying ace said they had been chosen from "the best of the best."

Dolph D. Overton III of Smithfield was referring to eight South Korean aviators selected to spearhead their country's air force in its transition to F-15 fighters.

Those aviators -- pilots and weapons system operators -- have just completed months of training at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. They will be saluted Saturday night at a graduation banquet at the base officers' club.

Overton will be the featured speaker at the event. He set a record for jet fighter aerial combat by shooting down five North Korean MIGs in four days. He might have been credited with three more "kills" on other missions had his plane's combat cameras not malfunctioned and failed to record the shoot-downs for confirmation.

Scheduled to be honored Saturday night are Maj. Young Su Lee, Maj. Joo II Kim, Maj. Chang Bae Yoon, Maj. Sung Dae Kim, Maj. Sang Gyoon Park, Maj. Kil Soo Song, Capt. Kee Pill Ryu and Capt. Dong Won Lee.

They have been training at Seymour Johnson since November. From here they will go to Saint Louis where Boeing Aircraft will instruct them on the F-15K -- the model that will become the cutting edge of South Korea's air power.

Upon returning home, the officers will train fellow Korean pilots to fly and use the latest sophisticated technology of the F-15.

Immediate families of the aviators have been with them during their stay at Seymour Johnson and now have ties not only with base personnel but with families in the civilian community.

The featured speaker for the banquet is well known in South Korea. He was selected to deliver the main address three years ago at South Korea's observance of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War ceasefire.

Overton served two tours of duty in Korea during that conflict. He earlier served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He then entered the U.S. Air Force after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Overton said the officers chosen to lead South Korea's transition to the F-15s were selected from among the top pilots in the country.

He predicted that some of the top military leaders in South Korea in the years ahead would emerge from the officers who trained at Seymour Johnson.

Overton left the Air Force after the Korean War and headed successful national and international business enterprises. He is now semi-retired.

He has an extensive library -- thousands of books -- on aviation history and is well-known for his efforts in acquiring and preserving vintage aircraft and donating them to museums around the nation. A Ford Trimotor he has flown for many years recently has been rebuilt at Goldsboro-Wayne Airport.

Master of ceremonies at the graduation banquet will be Maj. Joel Meyers who headed the team of pilots and weapons system officers that trained the Korean aviators.