Stanton R. Musser
Stanton R. Musser was an Air Force pioneer and exceptional leader. Within a military career spanning 31 years and experiences ranging from Thunderbird pilot to military advisor in Egypt, he accumulated 4,500 hours flying F-4s, F-15s, F-100s, and O-1s. Born in 1936, in Watsontown, PA, Musser was commissioned via USAF ROTC from Gettysburg College. He was the top graduate of his pilot training class in 1959 at Laredo AFB, TX. Upon completion of F-100 combat training in July 1960, where he again was the top graduate, Musser was assigned to the 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 50th Tactical Fighter Wing, Ramstein AB, Germany. In 1964, He was selected by Colonel James Jabara to depart to Vietnam as one of the first American Advisor Forward Air Controllers. He was attached to "A" Brigade, Republic of Vietnam Army and flew 177 O-1F Bird Dog missions. On 11 December 1964, at the Battle of Long Mey, Musser saved two South Vietnamese companies and a U.S. advisor when, for 10 hours, he directed multiple attack aircraft against two Viet Cong battalions. For his heroic actions, Musser received the Silver Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, with Palm Leaf, and was recognized as an irregular air warfare pioneer. During this same tour, a bullet smashed through Musser's windscreen and injured his head which forced him to land on a dirt road. After tending his own wound, he took off and safely recovered his aircraft. After this tour in Vietnam, he re-qualified in the F-100 and joined the USAF Aerial Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. Musser flew F-100s and F-4s in the Right Wing and Slot positions for 300 air shows. As a Thunderbird pilot, he survived an ejection from his F-100 due to a catastrophic engine failure. He returned to Vietnam in 1970 to fly F-4Es as assistant operations officer, 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron and later as assistant operations deputy commander, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai AFB. He flew 86 missions over Laos and North Vietnam and was flight lead for a 16 ship formation supporting the Son Tay POW rescue attempt. Following his second combat tour, Musser was assigned as the Tactics Branch Chief, Tactics Forces Division at the Pentagon where he advocated for Tactical Air Command's implementation of Red Flag. From 1975 to 1977, he was a vital mentor as the Vice Commandant of Cadets at the USAF Academy, where he led the planning and facilitation to integrate women. After two wing commander assignments, Musser was promoted to Major General in 1983 and assigned to Cairo, Egypt, as the Chief of Military Forces and advisor to the ambassador. At the time of his retirement in 1989, Musser was the most decorated active duty USAF officer to include the Silver Star, two Vietnam Crosses of Gallantry, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and a Purple Heart. While retired, Musser continued, for 10 years, to mentor future leaders as the Commandant of Cadets at Virginia Tech. Sadly, on 8 October 2012, America lost a patriot and pioneer. He is survived by his loving wife Dawn.
Major General Musser's F-4E, Dawn's Early Light, is positioned in the clouds signifying the USAF's remembrance with the "missing man" formation, honoring his legacy.