Collinsworth, Jerry D., Col

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1411-Operations Staff Officer
Last AFSC Group
Air Operations
Primary Unit
1964-1965, 27th Tactical Fighter Wing
Service Years
1941 - 1965

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A3C Michael S. Bell to remember Collinsworth, Jerry D., Col.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Dublin, Texas
Last Address
Phoenix, Arizona

Date of Passing
May 12, 2010
Location of Interment
National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona - Phoenix, Arizona
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

Air Force Commander Air Training Command Master Instructor (pre-1966) Air Force Retired United States Taiwan Defense Command

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
American Fighter Aces Association
  2016, American Fighter Aces Association

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
From Patriot Guard Riders:

"Jerry was a rare American Spitfire Ace during WWII. He later led the F-104
program at Luke.
Collinsworth, Col. J.D. USAF (retired) Colonel Collinsworth passed away of
natural causes on 
12 May, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Born in Dublin, Texas on 23 Dec, 1919
Colonel Collinsworth
enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet in 1941. After primary
and basic flying training he was assigned to Luke Field where he received
his advanced flying training and was commissioned. After graduating from
pilot training, he was assigned to the 31st Fighter Group at various
stations throughout the British Isles. He flew the English-built Spitfire
fighter aircraft and fought in the Battle of Dieppe in August 1942. Other
action during World War II included flying combat missions through the
entire North Africa campaign. He flew cover during the Sicilian invasion
from the island of Gozo. He was with the first American squadron to occupy
and fly from an aerodrome in Sicily. After the war, Colonel Colllinsworth
was separated from the Air Force and flew with United Airlines from October
1945 to December 1947. He then returned to active service. His primary
duties were
base operations officer and student. He attended instrument pilot
instruction and advanced interceptor training in the F-94B at Tyndall AFB,
Florida in 1951. In that same year he was assigned to Alaska where he served
as the Commander, 66th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
From July 1955 to July 1959 Colonel Collinsworth served with the 137th
Fighter Interceptor Squadron (New York Air National Guard) at White Plains,
New York. In July 1959 he was assigned to HQ Military Assistance Advisory
Group (MAAG) in Taipei, Taiwan for two years. Colonel Collinsworth spent the
next three years at Luke AFB as 4510th Combat Crew Training Group Deputy
Commander and then Commander, 4540th Combat Crew Training Group. In the
latter position he was responsible for the training of all West German
student pilots at Luke. On orders to Cannon AFB, NM in July, 1964, Colonel
Collinsworth assumed duties as Deputy Commander for Operations, 27th
Tactical Fighter Wing. In September 1965, he returned to Luke as the
Commander, 4510th Combat Support Group. Colonel Collinsworth received his BA
degree in Business Administration from the University  of Texas in 1955. The
Colonel was a command pilot with over 7000 hours flying time and was an
"ace" in WWII. This title is awarded to pilots who shoot down five or more
enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Among his awards and decorations are the
Distinguished Flying Cross, WWII Victory Medal, Army Commendation Medal and
the Purple Heart. He is survived by his wife of more than 64 years Frances
Collinsworth and his son Ross Collinsworth, USAF Lt Col (retired). He will
be buried at the National Cemetery in north Phoenix on 21 May, 2010."

From his friend:

Interment: Friday 1000 (10am)
National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona 
23029 N Cave Creek Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85024 

Staging: Friday 0915 (9:15)
National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona 
Visitors Center
23029 N Cave Creek Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85024 

Ride Captain: Big Tom (Tom Rohan)

Greatest Respects, 

Louann Thomas
Patriot Guard Rider
May 21, 2010
On behalf of the Cactus Starfighter Squadron, the pilots of the German Air Force and the German Navy who trained at Luke AFB from 1964 to 1983 I would like to express our deepest sympathy for the loss of a great fighter pilot and a friend of the F 104 Starfighter program at Luke.

Only fifteen years after fierce air combat over Europe, Col. Collinsworth got involved in teaching German pilots to become NATO partners, allies and friends. He was part of a program that contributed to the foundation of the friendly relationship between our two countries.

Our memories are with the Colonel, and our prayers are with his family.

Karl G. Boettcher LtCol (ret.)
German Air Force
Cactus Starfighter Squadron
Charlie Boettcher,
Phoenix, Arizona
Contact Me
May 21, 2010
The Erdmann familiy of Lompoc CA send our deepest sympathy on the passing of Col. Collinsworth. Your father and ours have a rich history together being fighter pilots in WWII and serving at the same military installations including Elmendorf AFB & Cannon AFB. They just don't make our fathers like that anymore. They were proud and stellar men.
Erdmann Family
Susan L Erdmann Ziegler
Lt Col Orville L Erdmann, USAF, (ret.)
Orv passed away 5/13/2010
Susan L Erdmann Ziegler,
Inyokern, California
Contact Me
May 18, 2010
Jerry was among the first pilots I interviewed. Chances are good that had it not been for his encouragement and positivity, I wouldn't have been able to continue in my art and interviews with the fighter pilots of WW2.

Right now, the story that comes to mind is this - In 2003, I hadn't spoken to Jerry in a year or so but sent out an email about a new career venture to my email list. A few months later, out of the blue, he called me at home - I can remember my wife holding up the phone, "It's a guy named Jerry Collinsworth...?"

Of course she had a vague recollection about, "The American Spitfire pilot who remembered every detail about everything."

Anyway, I was pleased to hear his pleasant drawl on the phone and he stated something like, "I can imagine how nervous you might be so I thought I'd call and see how you're doing."

This may seem like a simple act, but at the time, getting a well-wishes call from an ace fighter pilot and bona fide hero was a welcome one.

He retold his story of being allowed to be a fighter pilot in spite of his less-than-perfect eyes, punctuating the story with a statement on the power of encouragement.

He was - and will remain - a gentleman of the first order and his family will enjoy the honor of his legacy for a long time.

"Blue Skies" JD.

John Mollison
John Mollison,
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
May 17, 2010
I had the privelege and honor of being chosen to replace Colonel Collinsworth's secretary,Sylvia, for 3 mos. in the wing DO's. office at Cannon AFB, N.M., while she recuperated from surgery. What wonderful memories I'll always have. It was such a pleasure knowing such a warm, wonderful man. I always said that was the best job I had in my 20 yrs. of Gov't. employment. In my memory it's as if it was only yesterday. I had the pleasure of meeting you and Ross also. You were both the Colonels whole world. He loved you both so much and was so proud of you. I know you'll miss him so deeply. You've lost a wonderful man and I've lost a wonderful friend. We're all so blessed to have had him as part of our lives. Knowing him for a moment, or 3 mos.or 64 yrs, doesn't matter. We'll all miss the gentle man he was.

May the Lord cradle him gently and may he Bless you, Fran and Ross, and be with you in these dark moments.

Sincerely, Janis Wilson,Overgaard,AZ.
Retired Gov't employee
May 17, 2010
Col. Collinsworth and I were members of the American Aviation Historical Society, Phoenix Wing and the Knights of the Round Engine Table. No finer gentleman graced our presence then he. We were all fortunte to have known Col. Collinsworth as a friend and someone to hold in the highest esteem. My condolences to Mrs. Collinsworth and the family.
Arv Schultz,
Phoenix, Arizona
Contact Me
May 16, 2010
I am proud to say that Jerry was a friend of mine, He truely deserved the title "OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN"

Kenneth S Tomb MSgt USAF (ret)
Kenmneth Tomb,
Mesa, Arizona

Other Comments:

Eagle Biography

Jerry D. Collinsworth

Jerry D. Collinsworth is one of the few Americans to become an ace flying the Supermarine Spitfire. Born in Dublin, Texas, Collinsworth spent most of his early life in the panhandle oiltown of Borger. After high school, he set a goal to become a military pilot. After a semester at Texas A&M, six months as an oil field roughneck, and two years at Texas Tech, he became an Army Air Corps aviation cadet. The United States had been pulled into World War II before Collinsworth reached his goal. In March 1942, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and received his wings.

He avoided an assignment to bombers and was posted to the 31st Pursuit Group at New Orleans AB. Within weeks, the Group was sent to England. This first "Yank" fighter unit in the country since World War I was equipped with the Spitfire, which had earned fame during the Battle of Britain. On 19 August 1942, Collinsworth received his "baptism by fire " while covering the ill-fated commando raid on Dieppe, France. The unit, now the 31st Fighter Group, loaded its "Spits" onto a light carrier and headed south to the Mediterranean. Collinsworth helped spearhead Operation Torch landings at Oran, Algeria, and spent many hours in the air as the allies closed in on the Axis forces in Tunisia. Next, he flew cover for the allied landings in southern Sicily, operating from Malta's sister island of Gozo.

In 125 combat sorties, Collinsworth shot down six Axis aircraft along with one probable and one damaged. In September 1943, he returned to America, finishing the war training pilots in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. After two years as a United Airlines pilot he returned to Air Force blue as an instructor and base operations officer at Craig Field, Alabama. In early 1951, he upgraded to the new radar-equipped Lockheed F-94 Starfire and, later that year, reported to the 449th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at Ladd AFB, Alaska. He next commanded the 66th FIS at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

After graduation from Air Command and Staff School in 1954, he earned a degree at the University of Texas. Collinsworth served four years as advisor to the New York Air National Guard and two years in the Military Assistance Group to the Chinese Air Force on Taiwan. From 1961 to 1964, he was Deputy Commander, 451Oth Combat Crew Training Group (CCTG) and then Commander, 4540th CCTG, training German pilots in the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Collinsworth later flew North American F-100 Super Sabres as Deputy Commander for Operations, 27th Tactical Fighter Wing. After tours as a base commander in Arizona, and Thailand, he returned to Texas, retiring as Professor of Aerospace Studies at Southern Methodist University.

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Aviator (Command)

 Unit Assignments
Aviation Cadet Flight School31st Fighter GroupAir Training Command8th Air Force
9th Air Force449th Fighter Squadron66th Fighter Squadron  - ExterminatorsAir University
New York Air National GuardKorean Military Assistance Group (KMAG)US Air Force4510th Combat Crew Training Group
27th Tactical Fighter Wing
  1941-1942, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1942-1943, 31st Fighter Group
  1942-1943, Air Training Command
  1944-1944, 8th Air Force
  1944-1945, 9th Air Force
  1951-1953, 449th Fighter Squadron
  1953-1954, 66th Fighter Squadron - Exterminators
  1953-1954, 66th Fighter Squadron - Exterminators
  1954-1955, Air University
  1954-1958, New York Air National Guard
  1958-1960, Korean Military Assistance Group (KMAG)
  1958-1960, Air Force Advisory Group MACV
  1961-1964, 4510th Combat Crew Training Group
  1964-1965, 27th Tactical Fighter Wing
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)
 Colleges Attended 
Texas A&M UniversityTexas Tech UniversityAir Command and Staff CollegeUniversity of Texas at Austin
  1937-1937, Texas A&M University
  1938-1940, Texas Tech University
  1953-1954, Air Command and Staff College
  1954-1955, University of Texas at Austin
 My Aircraft/Missiles
Supermarine Spitfire  F-104 Starfighter  F-100 Super Sabre  P-47 Thunderbolt (Jug)  
F-94 Starfire  
  2003-2003, Supermarine Spitfire
  2003-2003, F-104 Starfighter
  2003-2003, F-100 Super Sabre
  2003-2003, P-47 Thunderbolt (Jug)
  2003-2003, F-94 Starfire
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