Dolph Overton shot down five communist fighters and became an ace in only four days over North Korea. He was born in Andrews, South Carolina, and as a boy flew with his father from a bumpy grass field nearby. At age 16 he soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub. He graduated from high school, and began college at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. After Overton joined the Navy, he served as a seaman until the end of World War II. Returning home he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy. Upon graduation from West Point, in 1949, he opted to become an Air Force pilot and was quickly on his way to Williams AFB, Arizona. He received his wings in 1950, and assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, flew the Republic F-84 Thunderjet.
Overton flew in the first mass trans-Atlantic Thunderjet deployment from the United States to England later that year. In 1951, he volunteered for duty in Korea and completed 102 missions in the Thunderjet flying ground attack missions from Taegu AB while assigned to the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing. In six months of combat, Overton became a flight commander and soon afterward Operations Officer of the 8th Fighter Bomber Squadron. During this tour, he also served as a forward air controller and directed close air support for allied troops on the front lines. Additionally, he flew from the USS Valley Forge and helped Navy carrier pilots with their close air support programs.
He volunteered for a second combat tour and joined the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Suwon AB, Korea. Overton checked out in the North American F-86 Sabre and on 21 January 1953, destroyed two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15s. He downed a MiG on the 22nd, another on the 23rd, and again on the 24th to became a jet ace in record time. For his service, Overton was awarded nine air medals, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Distinguished Service Cross, and three Silver Stars. When the armistice was concluded, Overton resigned from the Air Force. Since that time he has owned and managed several companies that operated worldwide. Through the years, he continued his love of aviation and has built an aviation library of over 10,000 books and periodicals.
He also collected and restored more than 90 vintage airplanes. He has given most of them to museums and institutions around the world. However, he kept a complete collection of early Piper Cubs, several open-cockpit biplanes, and a Ford Trimotor, which he flies for relaxation. Overton is now semi-retired, but is active in the development of a North Carolina State Aviation Museum. It will be international in scope and promote the 100th Anniversary, in 2003, of the Wright Brothers' first flight over the dunes at Kitty Hawk. Overton and his wife, Sue, have four daughters, a son who was a Navy carrier jet pilot, and eight grandchildren.
From 21 to 24 January, 1953, Dolph Overton, III officially downed five MiG-15s, earning the coveted status of "ace," in what has been described as the hottest streak in USAF history. Flying the F-86E Sabre, serial # 50-631, "Dolph's Devil", he downed two MiGs on the 21st, one on the 22nd, another on the 23rd, and one more on the 24th. For his service, Overton was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, and nine Air Medals.