On 18 June 1951, a flight of six F-86 Sabres with Major "Hoot" Gibson leading were flying combat air patrol up "MiG Alley" in North Korea. He turned his flight into a group of attacking MiG-15's. Gibson downed one of the MiG's and broke up their formation. With a failed gunsight, he led his element into another fight .... though greatly outnumbered. Drawing to close range, "Hoot" shot down his second MiG of the fight. He and his flight of F-86's then pressed the fight until the MiG-15's withdrew back across the Yalu River.
Ralph D. "Hoot" Gibson is one of the few "MiG Killers" to become an Ace in Korea. He joined the US Army Air Force in 1943 and graduated flight school in 1944 as a flight officer. He did not see combat during WWII, but served with the occupation forces in Japan for two years. In 1950 he was flying the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter with the 56th Fighter Interceptor Wing at Selfridge Air Force Base Michigan. In June of that year he wangled an assignment to the famed 4th Fighter Group just transferring to combat in Korea. During his tour in the Far East, Gibson was assigned to Johnson Air Base in Japan and to Suwon and Kimpo Air Bases in Korea. Flying the famed F-86 Sabre jet fighter, he shot down 5 MiG-15's, claimed two probables and 3 damaged in 94 combat missions.
He returned to the States for a goodwill tour, including a parade honoring him in his hometown of Mt. Carmel, Illinois. After another tour in Korea, "Hoot" was assigned to Oscoda AFB, Michigan where he met and married his wife, Donna.
In January 1954, Gibson was reassigned to the 36th Fighter Day Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. He served as Operations Officer for the 23rd Fighter Day Squadron, while that unit transitioned from the F-86 to the F-100 Super Sabre.
The Gibson's next went to Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NV. During his 6 years at Nellis, he served in several posts including Director of Operations for the newly revamped Fighter Weapons School. He also commanded the 21st Fighter Training Squadron and was Commander/Leader of the USAF Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Team.
From Nellis, Ralph returned to Germany and served with USAFE Headquarters in Wiesbaden. He served as Chief of The Tactical Fighter Branch. He later returned to the United States, attended a nine month course at Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama and moved to Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. There he transitioned from the F-100 to the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II.
In December 1967 he returned to combat in Southeast Asia as Commander of the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon AB, Thailand. After flying 105 combat missions from Ubon AB, Gibson rejoined his family in Arizona and served 2 years as Deputy Commander for Operations of the 4453rd Combat Crew Training Wing. In December 1971, he was sent to Langley AFB, Virginia for 2 years with the TAC Inspector General. Then it was to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of Ninth Air Force.
"Hoot" retired in 1974 and returned to Arizona. Among the many decorations he wears are the Silver Star, The Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star for Valor and 14 air medals.
All of us in Mt. Carmel are truely proud of Col. Ralph D. "Hoot" Gibson ... A REAL HERO
Col. Ralph "Hoot" Gibson's Obit
Published in the Tucson, AZ Newspapers on 1/7/2009
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ralph "Hoot" Gibson, who shot down five enemy
fighters during the Korean War, died on Jan. 2, 2009 as the result of an
accidental fall in Tucson, Ariz., where he lived.
Gibson joined the Army Air Forces in 1943 and graduated from flying school
the following year. He later trained in jet aircraft, flying the F-86 with the 4th
Fighter Group during the Korean War. During the Vietnam War, Gibson
commanded the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying 105 combat missions in
Ralph D. "Hoot" Gibson
Col. (Ret.) Ralph D. "Hoot" Gibson Ralph D. "Hoot" Gibson was born in
Keensburg, Illinois and raised in nearby Mt. Carmel.
His military career began in 1943 when he joined the U.S. Air Corps. During
his 31 years as a fighter pilot, he served in the occupation of Japan after
WWII; in the Korean War, where he became the world's third jet ace; and in
Other assignments included two tours in Germany and a tour as Leader of the
USAF Thunderbird Air Demonstration Team.
Hoot retired from the Air Force in 1974 and came to Tucson to begin a second
career in real estate. As broker of Hoot Gibson Realty and his own best sales
agent, he sold hundreds of properties and touched thousands of lives in Tucson
and southern Arizona.
Hoot was an energetic member of the Tucson community. In addition to
realty-related organizations, he was active in Kiwanis, the Business
Association of Tucson, Caballeros del Sol, Executives International, and
SAHBA as well as several military-related organizations: the Air Force Assoc.,
Daedalians, Fighter Aces Assoc., Thunderbird Alumni Assoc., River Rats,
Sabre Pilots, Super Sabre Society, QB's, and the Pima Air Museum.
In recent years he was inducted into the Illinois Military Aviation Hall of Fame
and the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame. Among the decorations Hoot earned in
the Air Force were two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, four Distinguished
Flying Crosses, Bronze Star/V, Meritorious Service Medal, 14 Air Medals, and
the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Hoot died January 2, 2009, in a fall while doing what he loved to do - showing
property to prospective buyers. He is survived by his wife, Donna; three sons,
Scott, Duane and Craig; four grandchildren, Alexandra, Layla, Carrie and
Michael; a sister, Opal Hamm and brother, Will Gibson.
Visitation will be held at BRING'S BROADWAY CHAPEL, 6910 E.
Broadway on Thursday, January 8, 2009, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Services
will be at Christ Community Church, 7801 E. Kenyon Dr., Friday, January 9,
2009, at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite