Gathering of Eagles Foundation

Honored as an Eagle in:

1995 1997

Eagle Biography

John F. Bolt

Jack Bolt is the only Marine Corps ace of the Korean War, and one of only seven Americans to become an ace in two wars! Born in Laurens, South Carolina in 1921, he studied at the University of Florida for 2 years. In the summer of 1941, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve to train as a pilot and to earn money for college. In November, he became an aviation cadet at NAS Pensacola. He earned his Wings of Gold and a commission in the Marine Corps in July 1942 After a short tour as an instructor, Bolt went to the south Pacific, and in 1943, was assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 214. This squadron would gain fame as the Black Sheep under the command of Pappy Boyington. Bolt flew the Vought F-4U Corsair on 94 missions during the Solomon Islands Campaign and became an ace by downing 6 Japanese fighters.

During 1944, he had a break from combat but returned to fly and fight in VMF-472 from the USS Block Island for a short time in 1945. He also set a new record for single engine aircraft when he flew a mission of over 14 hours endurance in the Corsair. In 1952, during the Korean War, Bolt first flew the McDonnell F-9F Panther in VMF-115 from K-3 airfield at Pohang. During 94 missions in support of Marine ground forces, he worked to improve fighter-bomber tactics. His analysis of damage to Marine aircraft highlighted that pilots were flying through their own bomb fragmentation patterns. He initiated point blank bombing using special delayed action fuses and bombs developed by the squadron ordnance section. These bombs not only reduced self-inflicted damage to Marine fighters, but also delayed the work of enemy repair and construction teams.

Bolt also began the use of phosphorous bombs with proximity fuses. They were more effective against enemy supplies and equipment than napalm. In March 1953, he was one of only four Marine pilots invited to fly a 90-day exchange tour with the Air Force. Attached to the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron on K-13 airfield at Suwon, he began as the wingman to Joseph McConnell, the leading jet ace of the Air Force. Bolt flew the North American F-86 Sabre on 34 sweeps and shot down 4 MiG-15s. He got a 3-month exchange extension and added two more victories to become a jet ace. After Korea, he had numerous staff and flying billets. On one, he commanded VMF-214 for almost two years. He also led the first air-refueled flight from Hawaii to Japan of Marine Corps single-engine aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Bolt retired in 1962 to pursue a career in business. He practiced law for 20 years. He is an avid scuba diver and takes every opportunity to enjoy the serenity beneath the surface of the nearby seas.

See the Lithograph
1997
Lithograph Setting

On 11 July 1953, Major Jack Bolt led a flight of 4 North American F-86 Sabres on a reconnaissance mission to MiG Alley near the Korean border with Manchuria. Low on fuel, Bolt sighted four enemy jets east of Sinuiju. He maneuvered his flight into attack position and personally destroyed two MiG-15s. With these victories, he increased his tally of enemy aircraft destroyed over Korea to six. He also earned a place in history as the first Naval Aviator to become a jet ace and the first Marine to become an ace in two wars!

Archives By Year