Ace pilots receive medals in D.C. ceremony

F6 HellcatIn today’s hi-tech world, fighter jets use computer-aided missiles to shoot down their targets.

But not that long ago, steel-nerved fighter pilots earned the “ace” designation in aerial dogfights by downing enemy planes with skillful hand-eye coordination.

Wednesday, a dwindling group of aces from Washington state each received a Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C., for their heroics in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. F4 Phantom

Steve Richie of Bellevue was the last pilot to earn the ace designation, when he shot down five MiG-21 jets with his F4 Phantom over Vietnam in 1972. Olympia’s Clarence Borley flew much earlier, piloting an F6 Hellcat in 1944. He shot down four Japanese planes in a single day.

Read The Olympian article.

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