Green, Herschel Harper, Col

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 1055-Pilot, Single-Engine Fighter
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1963-1964, M 2140, 25th Air Division
Service Years
1941 - 1964

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Green, Herschel Harper, Col.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Mayfield, KY
Last Address
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Date of Passing
Aug 16, 2006
Location of Interment
Green Hills Memorial Park - San Pedro, California
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Air Ace American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal

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

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Herschel H. "Herky" Green was born in Mayfield, KY on July 3, 1920. He experienced his first flight at age 5 in a barn-storming bi-plane. He attended high school, and then enrolled in Vanderbilt University.

While at Vanderbilt, he enrolled in the Civilian Pilots Training Program sponsored by the government, and in 1940, attained his private pilot's license.

In September, 1941 he enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Aviation Cadet. Upon graduation in 1942 he was presented his wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant at Foster Field, TX. He was assigned to the 57th Fighter Group operating out of Bradley Field in MA, training in the P-40. In September 1942 he was transferred to the 317th Fighter Squadron of the 325th Fighter Group at Hargrove, RI. In January 1943 the group moved to Langley Field, VA and began training for aircraft carrier take-offs and landing.

On the 8th of January 1943 the group sailed for North Africa on the USS Ranger. After taking-off from the carrier, the group arrived at Cazes Airdrome in Casablanca.

Herschel Green flew his first, and almost last, combat mission on May 19, 1943. On a head-on firing pass with a BF-109 fighter, Green managed to shoot down the German fighter, but was severely wounded. His plane was so damaged that when he returned to base, it was used for spare parts and scrap. He was notified three days later he had been promoted to Captain.

Captain Green continued flying escort and sweep missions in a new P-40. It was on January 30, 1944 that he scored his most spectacular feat in aerial combat. That day, his own aircraft was undergoing repairs, so he flew the P-47 "Star of Altoona" normally flown by Lt. Bunn Hearn, Jr. Engaging enemy aircraft on a sweep he shot down 6 German aircraft.  However, his score could have been more impressive. He was unaware that the P-47 was carrying 800 rounds per gun instead of the standard 400. After his 6th kill, he began seeing tracers, normally signifying 50 rounds per gun left. He believed he was out of ammunition, so left the fight and returned to base where he discovered he still had 3,200 rounds in his guns.

From  19 May, 1843 to August 23, 1944, flying the P-40, the P-47, and finally the P-51, Green managed to achieve the score of 18 aerial kills, and was credited with 10 on the ground. In addition, he was credited with 1 probable aerial kill and 6 damaged while in aerial combat. During this period, he contracted malaria and spent more than one month in the hospital.

In March 1944 he became the Commanding Officer of the 317th Fighter Squadron. Having flown 100 combat missions, he was transferred to 15th Air Force as a staff officer. His rank at the time was Lieutenant Colonel.

After the war, he acted as Deputy Commander of the 4th Fighter Group, flying the new F-80 Shooting Star jet aircraft. He was promoted to Colonel after only 8 years in service and at the age of 30. From 1950 to 1953, he was Chief of AF Security with MAAG in Denmark. Then he was assigned as Assistant Operations Chief for Air Defense Command at Ent, Colorado. In 1956, he was assigned to the 4765th Air Defense Group at Moody AFB, Georgia.

In 1957, he moved to Tyndall AFB, Florida with the same Group. In 1958, he was assigned to Headquarters Air Defense Command at Otis AFB, Massachusetts. He departed this station in 1960 to be assigned to 5th Air Force at Fuchua Air Station, Japan. Then from 1963 until his retirement 1964, he was the Deputy Chief of Staff in Operations for the 25th Air Division at McChord AFB, Washington.
He continued in flying and command positions until he retired from the Air Force on April 1, 1964

He took a position with Hughes Aircraft Company in the sales division and remained there until his retirement in 1982.

He published his memoirs in a book titled Herky: The Memoirs of a Checkertail Ace in 1996. He remained in the Southern California area until his death on August 16, 2006. (One record states this date as August 6.) He passed away in Torrance Memorial Medical Center and was buried in Green Hills Memorial Park.

"Herky: The Memirs of a Checkertail Ace."
The San Diego Times-Union, Aug 25, 2006

Other Comments:

It is extremely difficult to ascertain the exact aircraft utilized by the 317th Fighter Squadron as they did not use tail numbers. This was because the entire vertical stabilizer was painted in a black and yellow checkerboard design, hence the name "Checkertails" that was used when referring to the squadron.

Instead, each aircraft had an aircraft number as per illustration of the P-47. Colonel Green's first aircraft, a P-40, was coded "13." After his near-fatal encounter, he changed the replacement's number to "11" and kept this number through transitioning to the P-47 and P-51. Most aircraft identified as belonging to the 317th Fighter Squadron had nicknames, such as Lt. Hearn's "Star of Altoona," but 317th records do not list aircraft serial numbers. In fact, there is some doubt as to the aircraft number of Lt. Hearn's aircraft. One 325th Fighter Group record suggests "26", another says "66." So far, no positive determination has been made.

317th Fighter Squadron records
325th Fighter Group records
USAAF Aircraft designations and serial numbers

All these have been checked with no success.
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Aviator (Command)

 Unit Assignments
Aviation Cadet Flight School57th Fighter Group317th Fighter SquadronUS Air Force
15th Air Force4th Fighter GroupAir Defense Command (ADC)5th Air Force
25th Air Division
  1941-1942, M 1055, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1942-1942, M 1055, 57th Fighter Group
  1942-1943, M 1055, 317th Fighter Squadron
  1943-1943, M 1055, 317th Fighter Squadron
  1943-1944, M 1063, 317th Fighter Squadron
  1943-1945, M 1055, Air Ace
  1944-1945, M 2140, 15th Air Force
  1945-1950, M 1055, 4th Fighter Group
  1953-1956, M 2140, Air Defense Command (ADC)
  1957-1958, M 2140, Air Defense Command (ADC)
  1958-1960, M 2140, Air Defense Command (ADC)
  1960-1963, M 2140, 5th Air Force
  1963-1964, M 2140, 25th Air Division
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1943-1943 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Tunisia Campaign (1942-43)
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Anzio Campaign (1944)
  1945-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/North Apennines Campaign (1944-45)
 Colleges Attended 
Vanderbilt University
  1937-1940, Vanderbilt University
 My Aircraft/Missiles
PT-13 Stearman  PT-19 Trainer  P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk  P-47 Thunderbolt (Jug)  
P-51/F-51 Mustang  F-80/P-80 Shooting Star  
  1941-1941, PT-13 Stearman
  1942-1942, PT-19 Trainer
  1942-1943, P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk
  1943-1944, P-47 Thunderbolt (Jug)
  1944-1945, P-51/F-51 Mustang1
  1945-1950, F-80/P-80 Shooting Star
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